Objective—To assess the feasibility, describe the techniques, and determine the reliability of transthoracic echocardiography for characterization of left atrial (LA) size and LA mechanical function in horses.
Animals—6 healthy adult horses.
Procedures—Repeated echocardiographic examinations were performed independently by 2 observers in standing, unsedated horses by use of 2-dimensional echocardiography, pulsed-wave flow Doppler, and tissue Doppler imaging (TDI) techniques. Test reliability was determined by estimating measurement variability, within-day interobserver variability, and between-day inter- and intraobserver variability of all echocardiographic variables. Variability was expressed as the coefficient of variation (CV) and the absolute value below which the difference between 2 measurements will lie with 95% probability.
Results—Most echocardiographic variables of LA size had low overall variability (CV, < 15%). Among the 2-dimensional indices of LA mechanical function, area-based and volume-based ejection phase indices had moderate between-day variability (CV usually < 25%). Transmitral Doppler flow indices were characterized by low to high between-day variability (CV, 6% to 35%). The TDI wall motion velocities had high between-day variability (CV, > 25%), whereas most TDI-derived time intervals had low variability (CV, < 15%).
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—LA size and mechanical function can be reliably assessed in standing, unsedated horses by use of 2-dimensional echocardiography, transmitral blood flow velocity profiles, and analyses of LA wall motion by use of TDI. These results may provide useful recommendations for echocardiographic assessment of LA size and function in horses.