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Echocardiographic and electrocardiographic findings in client-owned ferrets: 95 cases (1994–2009)

Rebecca L. MalakoffAngell Animal Medical Center, 350 S Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02130.

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Nancy J. LasteAngell Animal Medical Center, 350 S Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02130.

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Connie J. OrcuttAngell Animal Medical Center, 350 S Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02130.

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Abstract

Objective—To characterize echocardiographic and ECG findings in ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) evaluated at a clinical practice.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—95 client-owned ferrets.

Procedures—Medical records of all ferrets that had a cardiac evaluation (echocardiogram with or without ECG) performed between January 1994 and November 2009 were reviewed. Data analyzed included signalment; primary clinical sign or physical examination finding that prompted cardiac evaluation; echocardiographic diagnosis; ECG diagnosis; radiographic diagnosis (if radiographs were obtained within 1 month before or after the echocardiogram); presence of congestive heart failure (CHF) defined as pulmonary edema, pleural effusion, or ascites determined to be of cardiac origin; and any available follow-up echocardiographic or ECG diagnoses.

Results—Valvular regurgitation (VR) was the most common abnormal echocardiographic finding and was diagnosed in 49 of 95 ferrets, of which 44 had aortic VR, 24 had mitral VR, and 23 had > 1 valve affected. Congestive heart failure was diagnosed in 17 of 95 ferrets, which included all 4 ferrets that had dilated cardiomyopathy. Of the 65 ferrets with ECG results, 26 had atrioventricular block, of which 7 had third-degree atrioventricular block and 6 had CHF, syncope, or weakness.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The most frequent echocardiographic abnormality found in ferrets was VR, most commonly affecting the aortic and mitral valves. Dilated cardiomyopathy was infrequently diagnosed but was generally associated with CHF. The most frequent ECG abnormality was atrioventricular block, and third-degree atrioventricular block was often associated with CHF, weakness, or syncope.

Abstract

Objective—To characterize echocardiographic and ECG findings in ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) evaluated at a clinical practice.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—95 client-owned ferrets.

Procedures—Medical records of all ferrets that had a cardiac evaluation (echocardiogram with or without ECG) performed between January 1994 and November 2009 were reviewed. Data analyzed included signalment; primary clinical sign or physical examination finding that prompted cardiac evaluation; echocardiographic diagnosis; ECG diagnosis; radiographic diagnosis (if radiographs were obtained within 1 month before or after the echocardiogram); presence of congestive heart failure (CHF) defined as pulmonary edema, pleural effusion, or ascites determined to be of cardiac origin; and any available follow-up echocardiographic or ECG diagnoses.

Results—Valvular regurgitation (VR) was the most common abnormal echocardiographic finding and was diagnosed in 49 of 95 ferrets, of which 44 had aortic VR, 24 had mitral VR, and 23 had > 1 valve affected. Congestive heart failure was diagnosed in 17 of 95 ferrets, which included all 4 ferrets that had dilated cardiomyopathy. Of the 65 ferrets with ECG results, 26 had atrioventricular block, of which 7 had third-degree atrioventricular block and 6 had CHF, syncope, or weakness.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The most frequent echocardiographic abnormality found in ferrets was VR, most commonly affecting the aortic and mitral valves. Dilated cardiomyopathy was infrequently diagnosed but was generally associated with CHF. The most frequent ECG abnormality was atrioventricular block, and third-degree atrioventricular block was often associated with CHF, weakness, or syncope.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Orcutt's present address is Putnam Veterinary Clinic, 374 Boston St, Topsfield, MA 01983.

Address correspondence to Dr. Malakoff (rmalakoff@angell.org).