Echocardiography in dogs and cats

Echocardiography in dogs and cats is the best means of assessing cardiac chamber dimensions and myocardial function and for differentiating pericardial effusion or chronic valvular insufficiency from DCM. Dilated cardiac chambers and poor systolic ventricular wall and septal motion are characteristic findings in DCM. All chambers are usually affected, but right atrial and ventricular dimensions may appear normal, especially in Dobermans and Boxers. Left ventricular systolic dimension is increased, and fractional shortening is decreased.

Other common features are a wide mitral valve E point-septal separation and reduced aortic root motion. Left ventricular free-wall and septal thickness are normal to decreased. Mild to moderate AV valve regurgitation may be seen with Doppler echocardiography. Dobutamine stress testing may provide insight as to the presence of early myocardial dysfunction in dogs thought to be at risk for DCM, but further research is needed to define the clinical applicability and optimal dosage for this more clearly.

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