Echocardiographs and Pulmonary Arterial Pressures

Researchers have found that echocardiographic measurements of the pulmonary artery, aorta, and heart chambers gave a valid estimate of pulmonary artery pressures (PAP) in horses. The ability to measure PAP is key to diagnosing and following treatment of equine heart disorders.

In the past, PAP was only done as an invasive procedure with specialized equipment not available to most equine practitioners. Non-invasive techniques such as Doppler echocardiography have been validated for estimating PAP in dogs and humans, but had not previously been validated in horses.

Mary M. Durando, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, a research assistant professor in the Section of Sports Medicine, University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center, presented an abstract at the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum on June 1 in Louisville, Ky., on the use of echocardiography to estimate PAP.

"Pulmonary hypertension is a complication of various congenital and acquired cardiac diseases, and is an important prognostic indicator," Durando and colleagues stated.
The researchers examined 34 horses with various cardiac diseases and 10 clinically normal control horses. They compared echocardiographic measurements of the pulmonary artery, aorta, and cardiac chambers with invasively measured PAP. They found evidence of a relationship between echocardiographic measurements of the pulmonary artery and actual PAP.

Durando said the method could help veterinarians make better diagnoses or prognoses, and monitor responses to treatment. 

"Echocardiography certainly has some potential to be a helpful tool in determining the severity of pulmonary hypertension in horses with cardiac disease," she said, pointing out that the study would need to be performed on a larger number of horses to confirm the reliability of this technique.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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