Determination of gallbladder motility assessed via ultrasonography in dogs with hyperlipidemia


To determine if increased lipid levels in dogs reduces gallbladder contractions which could ultimately increase the risk of developing a serious condition called gallbladder mucoceles.


Gallbladder (GB) mucoceles are an emerging disease in dogs. A GB mucocele is a buildup of too much mucus and bile sludge within the GB which can cause distension of the GB and affect bile flow. This can cause dogs to feel ill, and can lead to an urgent critical condition. The cause of GB mucocele formation is unknown. One proposed cause is decreased contractions of the GB secondary to increased lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) in the blood. Several breeds, such as Schnauzers and Shetland sheepdogs, have a much higher likelihood of developing the increased lipid levels as well as GB mucocele formation. A better understanding of how GB contraction is affected in dogs with increased lipid levels will allow us to better understand GB mucocele formation and possibly develop new preventative and treatment strategies for this disease.


  • Dogs of any age, breed or sex with elevated cholesterol or triglyceride values on more than one occasion.
  • Dogs with secondary causes of hyperlipidemia such as hypothyroidism, hyperadrenocorticism and diabetes mellitus will be accepted as long as they are otherwise healthy and not receiving any of the prohibited medications.

Exclusion Criteria

  • Dogs receiving medications that could alter gallbladder motility including anticholinergics, erythromycin, loperamide, ondansetron, cisapride, cholestyramine, ursodiol, or SAM-e within 7 days prior to evaluation.
  • Dogs with co-morbidities that could alter GB motility such GB disease(e.g. mucocele, choleliths, cholecystitis), acute pancreatitis, extrahepatic biliary obstruction, portosystemic shunt, cholangiohepatitis or neoplasia of the hepatobiliary system.
  • Dogs that will require sedation for venipuncture or ultrasound.

Study Design

Enrolled dogs will have a physical examination, plasma biochemistry, and an ultrasound performed. Dogs will fast for at least 12 hours prior to collection of plasma biochemistry and the initial ultrasound. Ultrasound will be performed on dogs in the fasted state and repeated at 1 and 2 hours after eating.


Enrolled dogs will receive, at no cost, a physical exam, blood chemistry testing, and ultrasounds if the criteria of the study are met. Costs associated with any additional testing or treatment deemed necessary by the clinician are not covered by the study.


Dr. Jessica Villm, Internal Medicine
Phone: 540-231-4621 | Email:

Mindy Quigley, Clinical Trials Coordinator
Office Phone: 540-231-1363 | Email:

If your query is urgent, please call the Small Animal Hospital on 540-231-4621.