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Thoracic radiographic findings for dogs with cardiac tamponade attributable to pericardial effusion

Etienne Côté DVM, DACVIM1,2, Leslie A. Schwarz DVM, DACVR3, and Fortune Sithole BVSc, PhD, DACVPM4
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  • 1 Angell Memorial Animal Hospital, 350 S Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02130
  • | 2 Department of Companion Animals, Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE, C1A 4P3, Canada
  • | 3 Angell Memorial Animal Hospital, 350 S Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02130
  • | 4 Department of Paraclinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X04, Onderstepoort 0110, South Africa.

Abstract

Objective—To determine the prevalence of various radiographic findings for dogs with cardiac tamponade (CT) attributable to pericardial effusion (PE) and to determine the sensitivity and specificity of such findings for identification of affected dogs.

Design—Retrospective, randomized, blinded, controlled study.

Animals—50 dogs with CT attributable to PE and 23 control dogs (10 healthy dogs and 13 dogs with cardiac diseases other than CT).

Procedures—Thoracic radiographic images of dogs were evaluated by an observer who was unaware of the dogs' medical histories. For each dog, a vertebral heart score, globoid appearance of the cardiac silhouette, and convexity of the dorsocaudal aspect of the cardiac silhouette were determined.

Results—The sensitivity and specificity of enlargement of the cardiac silhouette (vertebral heart score, ≥ 10.7) for identification of dogs with CT attributable to PE were 77.6% and 47.8%, respectively. The sensitivity and specificity of a globoid appearance of the cardiac silhouette for identification dogs with CT were 41.9% and 40.0%, respectively. The sensitivity and specificity of a convex appearance of the dorsocaudal aspect of the cardiac silhouette for identification of dogs with CT were 57.1% and 35.0%, respectively.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results of this study indicated none of the evaluated radiographic variables was highly (> 90%) sensitive or specific for identification of dogs with CT attributable to PE. Thoracic radiographic findings should not be considered reliable for identification of dogs with CT attributable to PE.

Abstract

Objective—To determine the prevalence of various radiographic findings for dogs with cardiac tamponade (CT) attributable to pericardial effusion (PE) and to determine the sensitivity and specificity of such findings for identification of affected dogs.

Design—Retrospective, randomized, blinded, controlled study.

Animals—50 dogs with CT attributable to PE and 23 control dogs (10 healthy dogs and 13 dogs with cardiac diseases other than CT).

Procedures—Thoracic radiographic images of dogs were evaluated by an observer who was unaware of the dogs' medical histories. For each dog, a vertebral heart score, globoid appearance of the cardiac silhouette, and convexity of the dorsocaudal aspect of the cardiac silhouette were determined.

Results—The sensitivity and specificity of enlargement of the cardiac silhouette (vertebral heart score, ≥ 10.7) for identification of dogs with CT attributable to PE were 77.6% and 47.8%, respectively. The sensitivity and specificity of a globoid appearance of the cardiac silhouette for identification dogs with CT were 41.9% and 40.0%, respectively. The sensitivity and specificity of a convex appearance of the dorsocaudal aspect of the cardiac silhouette for identification of dogs with CT were 57.1% and 35.0%, respectively.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results of this study indicated none of the evaluated radiographic variables was highly (> 90%) sensitive or specific for identification of dogs with CT attributable to PE. Thoracic radiographic findings should not be considered reliable for identification of dogs with CT attributable to PE.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Côté's present address is Department of Companion Animals, Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE, C1A 4P3, Canada.

Dr. Schwarz's present address is Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center of New England, 180 Bear Hill Rd, Waltham, MA 02451.

Presented as a poster at the 22nd Annual American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum, Minneapolis, June 2004.

Address correspondence to Dr. Côté (ecote@upei.ca).