To investigate the predictive value of right axis deviation of the mean electrical axis (MEA) in assessing the severity of pulmonic stenosis (PS) in dogs.
Records for 218 client-owned dogs diagnosed between 2014 and 2020 with PS as determined by Doppler echocardiography.
University of Florida Small Animal Clinic medical records were reviewed, and signalment and clinical risk variables (murmur grade and clinical signs) were extracted. MEA was determined from ECG records by use of leads I and III. Predictive potential of MEA and associated risk factors to diagnose PS severity (mild [< 50 mm Hg], moderate, or severe [> 75 mm Hg]) were assessed by receiver-operating characteristic curve analysis and quantile regression.
Records for 88 dogs were eligible for analysis. Greater PS severity was associated with smaller breeds presenting with ECG abnormalities, overt clinical signs, and high-category murmur grades (IV and V). Mean MEA increased with stenosis severity category, with an average of 62° for mild, 113° for moderate, and 157° for severe. Each 10° increase in MEA corresponded to an approximately 5–mm Hg increase in PG. Increasing PS severity was associated with MEA right axis deviation > 100° and the more severe cases (PG > 75 mm Hg) with MEA right axis deviation > –180°.
Mean electrical axis right axis deviation may be a useful screening metric for dogs with suspected moderate to severe PS.
Case Description—A 2-year-old 14.9-kg (32.8-lb) neutered female Shetland Sheepdog was admitted to the University of Liverpool Small Animal Teaching Hospital for evaluation of acute collapse.
Clinical Findings—At admission, the dog was tachypneic and had reduced limb reflexes and muscle tone in all limbs consistent with diffuse lower motor neuron dysfunction. The dog was severely hypokalemic (1.7 mEq/L; reference range, 3.5 to 5.8 mEq/L). Clinical status of the dog deteriorated; there was muscle twitching, flaccid paralysis, and respiratory failure, which was considered a result of respiratory muscle weakness. Ventricular arrhythmias and severe acidemia (pH, 7.18; reference range, 7.35 to 7.45) developed. Intoxication was suspected, and plasma and urine samples submitted for barium analysis had barium concentrations comparable with those reported in humans with barium toxicosis. Analysis of barium concentrations in 5 control dogs supported the diagnosis of barium toxicosis in the dog.
Treatment and Outcome—Fluids and potassium supplementation were administered IV. The dog recovered rapidly. Electrolyte concentrations measured after recovery were consistently unremarkable. Quantification of plasma barium concentration 56 days after the presumed episode of intoxication revealed a large decrease; however, the plasma barium concentration remained elevated, compared with that in control dogs.
Clinical Relevance—To our knowledge, this case represented the first description of barium toxicosis in the veterinary literature. Barium toxicosis can cause life-threatening hypokalemia; however, prompt supportive treatment can yield excellent outcomes. Barium toxicosis is a rare but important differential diagnosis in animals with hypokalemia and appropriate clinical signs.