Precordium in pets

The precordium in pets is palpated by placing the palm and fingers of each hand on the corresponding side of the animal’s chest wall over the heart. Normally, the strongest impulse is felt during systole over the area of the left apex (located at approximately the left fifth intercostal space near the costochondral junction). Cardiomegaly or a space-occupying mass within the chest can shift the precordial impulse to an abnormal location. Decreased intensity of the precordial impulse can be caused by obesity, weak cardiac contractions, pericardial effusion, intrathoracic masses, pleural effusion, or pneumothorax.

The precordial impulse should be stronger on the left chest wall than on the right. A stronger right precordial impulse can result from right ventricular hypertrophy or displacement of the heart into the right hemithorax by a mass lesion, lung atelectasis, or chest deformity. Very loud cardiac murmurs cause palpable vibrations on the chest wall known as a precordial thrill. This feels like a buzzing sensation on the hand. A precordial thrill is usually localized to the area of maximal intensity of the murmur.

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