ELECTROCARDIOGRAPHY (ECG or EKG)
This test evaluates the electrical activity of the heart. An ECG is an essential test for the diagnosis of rhythm disturbances (irregular heart beats). It can also suggest the presence of cardiac enlargement.
This test allows monitoring and analysis of the heart’s electrical activity for 24 hours in the normal pet’s environment as it doesn’t require hospitalization. Sometimes rhythm problems are intermittent and not present at the time of the visit, therefore prolonged monitoring of the electrical activity can increase the possibility of identifying intermittent arrhythmias. A Holter test is also important in the evaluation of the response to medical treatment.
Heart failure frequently causes cough or increased respiratory effort, signs that are also commonly seen in patients with lung disease. Thoracic radiographs are an invaluable test to help differentiating between cardiac and lung disease. Thoracic radiographs are also helpful to identify heart enlargement and to monitor the efficacy of medical treatment.
Cardiac ultrasound or echocardiography is a well established tool for the non-invasive evaluation of the function of heart that in most cases does not require sedation or anesthesia. The Doppler technology permits thestudy of the blood flow and the function of the four cardiac valves. This is very important since a dysfunctional valve is a very common cause for a heart murmur. In these cases Doppler echocardiography allows the quantification of the the severity of common congenital or acquired valvular disease, such as congenital aortic and pulmonary valve stenosis or acquired mitral valve disease. Our cardiology unit can also perform more sophisticated cardiac evaluations such as tissue Doppler, strain and strain rate imaging, and contrast echocardiography. These evaluations enable us to better understand the cardiac function of your pet.
ANGIOGRAPHY AND INTERVENTIONAL CARDIOLOGY
With the advent of echocardiography the need for invasive studies (i.e. diagnostic procedures that require the introduction of specifically designed catheters through peripheral vessels) was significally reduced. Our Service performs cardiac catheterizations in selected patients diagnosed with congenital heart defects that are amenable to catheter-based interventions. Main indications include treatment of pulmonary valve stenosis by balloon valvuloplasty and patent ductus arteriosus by catheter-based occlusion. Furthermore, dogs with selected cardiac rhythm abnormalities are considered for treatment with pacemaker implantation.