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Echocardiographic assessment of dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs

J.D. Bonagura, L.C. Visser
Journal of veterinary cardiology 2022 v.40 no. pp. 15-50
aorta, biomarkers, body size, cardiomyopathy, death, dogs, echocardiography, electrocardiography, etiology, heart failure, phenotype
Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a frequent cause of cardiac disability, congestive heart failure (CHF), and arrhythmic death in dogs. The etiology of DCM is usually idiopathic/genetic, but some causes of a DCM phenotype are reversible. The disease is classified into preclinical (occult) and clinical (overt) stages; the latter stems from heart failure with reduced ejection fraction. DCM is further characterized by clinical, electrocardiographic, circulating biomarker, and imaging abnormalities. The diagnosis of clinical DCM with CHF is straightforward; however, identification of the preclinical stage can be challenging. Echocardiography is central to the diagnosis of both stages and characterized by left ventricular (LV) systolic dysfunction with progressive chamber dilation and variable enlargements of the left atrium and right-sided chambers. Left ventricular dilation is defined by increased LV end-diastolic volumes, areas, and internal dimensions normalized to body size or indexed to the aorta. Systolic dysfunction is characterized by decreased LV ejection fraction, increased end-systolic volume, and reduced shortening across minor and longitudinal LV axes. Dyssynchrony can confound the interpretation of linear indices of systolic function. A comprehensive echocardiogram in DCM includes two-dimensional and M-mode studies, spectral and tissue Doppler imaging, and potentially three-dimensional echocardiography and myocardial strain imaging. Echocardiographic findings should be interpreted within the context of identifiable risks and comorbidities, physical diagnosis, complementary diagnostic testing, and limitations of current reference intervals. Ambiguous examinations should be repeated. Specific echocardiographic criteria for the diagnosis of DCM are proposed to encourage discussion and additional outcome and breed-specific echocardiographic studies of canine DCM.