• Echocardiogram;
  • Electrocardiogram;
  • Heart failure;
  • Radiograph

Vertebral heart size (VHS) has been proposed as a method for quantifying cardiomegaly in dogs. This study was designed to determine how well echocardiographic and electrocardiographic findings correlated with VHS. Dogs were rapid-paced into varying degrees of cardiomegaly and were monitored by thoracic radiography, echocardiography, and electrocardiography during development of cardiomegaly. Echocardiographic and electrocardiographic parameters were compared with VHS. VHS increased with increased duration or rate of pacing or both, and left atrium-to-aorta ratio, left ventricular end-diastolic diameter, left ventricular end-systolic diameter, P wave duration, and QRS duration correlated significantly with VHS. VHS (a score obtained from routine thoracic radiographs) seems to correlate well with both echocardiographic and electrocardiographic parameters. When 9 veterinarians, experienced in interpretation of cardiac silhouettes on radiographs, measured VHS from 1 normal dog and 1 dog with severe cardiomegaly, coefficients of variation (ratio of standard deviation to the mean) for their measurements were 2.7% and 2.8%, respectively. Thus, VHS could be established with great uniformity by experienced interpreters.