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J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1995 Jan 15;206(2):194-9.

Vertebral scale system to measure canine heart size in radiographs.

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  • 1Section of Cardiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104.


A method for measuring canine heart size in radiographs was developed on the basis that there is a good correlation between heart size and body length regardless of the conformation of the thorax. The lengths of the long and short axes of the heart of 100 clinically normal dogs were determined with calipers, and the dimensions were scaled against the length of vertebrae dorsal to the heart beginning with T4. The sum of the long and short axes of the heart expressed as vertebral heart size was 9.7 +/- 0.5 vertebrae. The differences between dogs with a wide or deep thorax, males and females, and right or left lateral recumbency were not significant. The caudal vena cava was 0.75 vertebrae +/- 0.13 in comparison to the length of the vertebra over the tracheal bifurcation.

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