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J Feline Med Surg. 2012 Apr;14(4):276-9. doi: 10.1177/1098612X11435041. Epub 2012 Jan 10.

Doppler echocardiographic diagnosis and surgical therapy of constrictive pericarditis in a cat.

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Department of Small Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.


A 4-year-old Ragdoll cat presented for dyspnea secondary to chylous pleural effusion to the University of Georgia Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Physical examination, complete blood count, serum chemistries, urinalysis, thoracic radiographs, abdominal radiographs, and thoracic fluid cytology and culture failed to identify an etiology for the chylous effusion. The patient tested negative for feline leukemia virus, feline immunodeficiency virus and heartworm disease. Respiration phasic influences on early diastolic trans-mitral, trans-tricuspid and pulmonary vein blood flow velocities during Doppler echocardiography were consistent with constrictive pericarditis. The cat underwent subtotal pericardectomy. The patient recovered without complication and is overtly healthy without radiographic or echocardiographic abnormalities 6-months post-surgery. Constrictive pericarditis should be considered in cats with idiopathic pleural effusion, with or without ascites, in which standard echocardiographic assessment is not suggestive of structural heart disease. If constrictive pericarditis is present, the Doppler characteristics outlined here may allow for this diagnosis to be made. Pericardectomy may be highly rewarding, although the specific etiology of the constrictive pericarditis may remain unknown.

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