• echocardiography;
  • pericardial effusion;
  • valvular disease


Objective: To describe the clinical parameters, treatment, and prognosis of dogs with left atrial rupture secondary to chronic mitral valve insufficiency.

Design: Retrospective study.

Setting: University referral hospital.

Animals: 14 dogs with left atrial rupture.

Interventions: None.

Measurements and main results: Mixed breed dogs (n=6, 43%) and Shetland Sheepdogs (n=3, 21%) were most commonly affected. The median age was 12 years (range 5.8–18 y). The median weight was 11 kg (range 4–30 kg). Eight dogs had been previously diagnosed with chronic valvular disease. The most common presenting complaints included collapse (13/14), cough (9/14), and dyspnea (8/14). Four dogs were presented in either respiratory or cardiac arrest. Pericardial effusion was present in 13 dogs. The median left atrium:aortic outflow ratio was 2.66 (range 1.66:1–5.52:1). Pericardiocentesis was performed to alleviate tamponade in 3 dogs. Five dogs were discharged from the hospital, 3 of which were euthanized within 35 days of initial diagnosis for recurrence of clinical signs (n=2) and for hematochezia and lethargy (n=1). Five dogs were euthanized while in the hospital for a variety of reasons including DIC, progressive azotemia, collapse and recurrence of pericardial effusion, or possible seizure episode.

Conclusions: Although rare, left atrial rupture resulting in pericardial effusion should be considered in older small- to medium-sized dogs presenting with collapse, cough, and dyspnea. The overall prognosis appears poor.