Screening for Congenital Heart Disease

Mission Valley Veterinary Cardiology offers cardiac screening services to dog breeders, registered breed clubs, and dog shows for the purposes of identifying congenital heart disease in breeding animals. Arrangements can be made by contacting Dr. Richard Kienle at (408) 842-2899.

Screening Examination

The screening examination includes a cardiovascular physical examination and a complete thoracic auscultation (listening to the chest with a stethoscope). The importance of evaluating for heart murmurs after exercise is currently unresolved. MVVC will examine dogs after exercise only at the request of the owner/agent of the animal. If the screening examination is normal, no further diagnostic studies are recommended. If the screening examination is abnormal, a tentative diagnosis may be made, but the definitive diagnosis generally requires other diagnostic studies.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

The standard electrocardiogram is used to assess the electrical activation of the heart. It consists of a 6 (minimum) lead recording and a 2 minute rhythm strip. An ECG is only indicated if an irregular rhythm is detected during the physical examination.

Holter Monitor (24 Hr Ambulatory ECG)

The Holter monitor is a special digital ECG that is recorded for 24-48 hours . The recording is then evaluated off-line with the aide of specialized computer software. A Holter monitor is indicated if an irregular rhythm is detected during the physical examination or in breeds predisposed to inherited arrhythmias.

Ultrasound Examination

The ultrasound examination includes a complete anatomical, functional and Doppler evaluation of the heart and is intended to provide a definitive diagnosis of a congenital cardiac abnormality.

Certification Classes (Results)

Normal: normal examination in a dog older than 12 months of age

Provisional: normal examination in a dog younger than 12 months of age

Equivocal: congenital heart disease cannot be diagnosed nor excluded

Abnormal: examination indicative of congenital heart disease

Screening Schedule

Only a single examination is required - after 12 months of age. Prelimenary exams can be done in younger dogs.