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.
Case Description—4 rabbits (1.5 to 6 years old) were evaluated at the Angell Animal Medical Center from June 2007 to March 2009 because of nonspecific clinical signs including anorexia, lethargy, and decreased fecal output.
Clinical Findings—Physical examination revealed signs of pain in the cranial portion of the abdomen, gas distention of the gastrointestinal tract, and diminished borborygmi. Serum biochemical analyses and CBCs revealed moderately to markedly high alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, and alkaline phosphatase activities and mild to moderate anemia with polychromasia. Abdominal radiographic findings were nonspecific. Three of the 4 rabbits underwent abdominal ultrasonography; abnormalities in shape, size, echogenicity, and blood flow of the liver, indicative of liver lobe torsion, were detected.
Treatment and Outcome—All 4 rabbits underwent surgery, during which liver lobe torsion was confirmed and the affected liver lobe was resected. Histologic examination of sections of the excised lobe obtained from 3 of the 4 rabbits revealed severe, diffuse, acute to sub-acute hepatic ischemic necrosis. All rabbits recovered from surgery; owners reported that the rabbits were doing well 22 to 43 months after surgery.
Clinical Relevance—Liver lobe torsions in any species are rarely reported, yet 4 cases of liver lobe torsion in domestic rabbits were treated at 1 referral center in a 2-year period. In rabbits, clinical signs of this condition are nonspecific and results of additional tests, including abdominal ultrasonography and serum biochemical analysis, are necessary for diagnosis. Prompt diagnosis and hepatectomy of the affected lobe are recommended and appear to be associated with an excellent prognosis.