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J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1998 Apr 15;212(8):1276-80.

Analysis of prognostic indicators for dogs with pericardial effusion: 46 cases (1985-1996).

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Department of Clinical Sciences, Veterinary Teaching Hospital, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins 80523-1620, USA.



To determine factors associated with disease-free interval and survival time for dogs with pericardial effusion.


Retrospective study.


46 dogs.


Signalment, history, results of physical examination, electrocardiography, echocardiography, and thoracic radiography; disease-free interval; and survival time were obtained from medical records or telephone conversations with owners and referring veterinarians.


Dogs that had ascites at the time of the initial physical examination were significantly less likely, and dogs that had evidence of pulmonary metastases on thoracic radiographs or that had echocardiographic evidence of a right atrial mass were significantly more likely, to have died of pericardial effusion or the underlying cause of effusion than were dogs that did not. Median survival time was 15.3 months for dogs with idiopathic pericardial effusion, 16 days for dogs with hemangiosarcoma, and 13.6 months for dogs with mesothelioma. Dogs that had a nonspecific extracardiac mass and underwent pericardiectomy were significantly less likely to have had recurrence of signs than were dogs that did not. However, dogs with mesothelioma or hemangiosarcoma that underwent pericardiectomy did not have a significantly different risk of recurrence of signs or survival time, compared with dogs that did not.


Results suggest that pericardiectomy will not affect risk of recurrence or survival time in dogs with pericardial effusion secondary to hemangiosarcoma or mesothelioma. However, pericardiectomy is still needed to differentiate dogs with neoplastic pericardial effusion from dogs with idiopathic pericardial effusion.

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