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Objective

To determine clinical signs of pericarditis in horses and to determine whether there were any relationships among clinical signs, echocardiographic findings, treatment, and outcome.

Design

Retrospective study.

Animals

18 horses.

Results

Physical examination was performed on 16 horses. Cardiovascular abnormalities included tachycardia (n = 16), pericardial friction rub (10), venous distention (7), murmur (7), muffled heart sounds (6), weak arterial pulse (6), jugular pulse (6), and edema (5). Twelve horses also had respiratory abnormalities; the most common was dull lung sounds, ventrally, suggestive of pleural effusion (10). Echocardiography was the most important tool for diagnosis of pericarditis. Detection of clinical signs of right-sided heart failure was significantly associated with severe accumulation of pericardial effusion and with detection of cardiac compromise. Severe accumulation of pericardial effusion was also significantly associated with echocardiographic detection of cardiac compromise. Pericarditis was idiopathic in 6 horses, and bacterial in 5. Five horses had nonseptic pericarditis associated with bacterial respiratory disease, and 2 had nonseptic pericarditis associated with viral respiratory disease. Fourteen of the 18 horses were treated specifically for pericarditis; 10 received antimicrobials and 6 with suspected immune-mediated pericarditis received corticosteroids. Pericardial drainage and lavage were performed on 6 horses in which pericardial effusion or fibrin accumulation was compromising cardiac function. Pericarditis resolved in all 14 horses that were treated, and all 14 returned to their prior Intended use.

Clinical Implications

With early detection of disease and aggressive treatment, the prognosis for horses with pericarditis is good. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1998;212:248–253)

Free access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

In collaboration with the American College of Veterinary Radiology

Open access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

In collaboration with the American College of Veterinary Radiology

Open access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association