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Objective—To evaluate the disease-free interval (DFI) and median survival time (MST) in dogs with idiopathic and neoplastic pericardial effusion surgically treated by a thoracoscopic pericardial window procedure or subtotal pericardectomy via thoracotomy and to compare DFI and MST in dogs with and without a mass on preoperative echocardiography that underwent either surgical technique.

Design—Retrospective cohort study.

Animals—58 dogs with pericardial effusion.

Procedures—Medical records between 1985 and 2010 were evaluated. Dogs were included in the study if they had confirmed pericardial effusion and underwent a thoracoscopic pericardial window procedure or subtotal pericardectomy via thoracotomy.

Results—Clinical signs of dogs at initial evaluation were similar, with the exception of lethargy, between dogs treated by subtotal pericardectomy via thoracotomy or the pericardial window procedure. Dogs with idiopathic pericardial effusion that underwent the thoracoscopic pericardial window procedure had significantly shorter DFI and MST than did those treated by subtotal pericardectomy via thoracotomy. For neoplastic pericardial effusion, DFI and MST were not significantly different between dogs treated with either surgical technique.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Dogs with idiopathic pericardial effusion treated with a subtotal pericardectomy via thoracotomy had a significantly longer DFI and MST, compared with dogs treated by the thoracoscopic pericardial window procedure. This difference in outcome may be related to inaccuracy of the initial diagnosis or ineffectiveness of the pericardial window to palliate the signs of idiopathic pericardial effusion long term.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association