Detection of nephrocalcinosis using ultrasonography, micro-computed tomography, and histopathology in cats

Pak-Kan Tang*, Rebecca F Geddes, Yu-Mei Chang, Rosanne E Jepson, Dirk Hendrik Nicolaas van den Broek, Nicola Lötter, Jonathan Elliott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Identification of nephrocalcinosis in cats with chronic kidney disease (CKD) is of clinical interest but the ability of ultrasonography to detect nephrocalcinosis is uncertain.

OBJECTIVES: To compare ultrasonography, micro-computed tomography (μCT) and histopathology for identification of nephrocalcinosis.

ANIMALS: Twelve kidneys from 7 euthyroid client-owned cats with CKD.

METHODS: Descriptive study. Renal ultrasonography was performed ante-mortem for nephrocalcinosis detection. Kidneys were grouped based on nephrocalcinosis: present, suspected, or absent. When cats died, necropsy was performed. Renal tissue was evaluated using μCT for macroscopic nephrocalcinosis, and nephrocalcinosis volume-to-kidney tissue ratio (macro-VN:KT) and sagittal nephrocalcinosis area-to-kidney tissue ratio (macro-AN:KT) were calculated. Each kidney subsequently was bisected longitudinally, formalin-fixed, and paraffin-embedded for microscopic nephrocalcinosis assessment using von Kossa and Alizarin red staining with AN:KT (VK-micro-AN:KT and AR-micro-AN:KT) quantified using ImageJ. Data are presented as median (range). Relationships between macroscopic and microscopic AN:KT were assessed using Spearman's correlation.

RESULTS: Nephrocalcinosis by ultrasonography was considered to be absent in 3, suspected in 3, and present in 5 kidneys; 1 kidney had nephrolithiasis with nephrocalcinosis. The macro-VN:KT was 0.001%, 0.001%, and 0.019%, and the macro-AN:KT was 0.08%, 0.30%, and 1.47%, respectively. Histologically, VK-micro-AN:KT was 0.21%, 2.85%, and 4.56%, and AR-micro-AN:KT was 1.73%, 5.82%, and 8.90% for kidneys where ultrasonographic macro-nephrocalcinosis was absent, suspected, or present, respectively. A strong correlation was identified between macroscopic (macro-AN:KT) and microscopic (VK-micro-AN:KT) nephrocalcinosis (rs  = 0.76; P = .01).

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL IMPORTANCE: Ultrasonographically diagnosed nephrocalcinosis correlates well with macroscopic and microscopic nephrocalcinosis at necropsy despite their separation in time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1553‐1562
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Issue number3
Early online date13 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


  • calcification
  • chronic kidney disease
  • feline
  • mineralization


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