• Dilated cardiomyopathy;
  • Dogs;
  • Echocardiography;
  • Occult

Background: M-mode is the echocardiographic gold standard to diagnose dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs, whereas Simpson's method of discs (SMOD) is the preferred method to detect echocardiographic evidence of disease in humans.

Objectives: To establish reference values for SMOD and to compare those with M-mode measurements.

Animals: Nine hundred and sixty-nine examinations of 471 Doberman Pinschers.

Methods: Using a prospective longitudinal study design. Reference values for SMOD were established using 75 healthy Doberman Pinschers >8 years old with <50 ventricular premature contractions (VPCs) in 24 hours. The ability of the new SMOD cut-off values, normalized to body surface area (BSA), for left ventricular end-diastolic volume (LVEDV/BSA >95 mL/m2) and end-systolic volume (LVESV/BSA > 55 mL/m2) to detect echocardiographic changes in Doberman Pinschers with DCM was compared with currently recommended M-mode values. Dogs with elevated SMOD values but normal M-mode measurements were followed-up using a prospective longitudinal study design.

Results: At the final examination 175 dogs were diagnosed with DCM according to both methods (M-mode and SMOD). At previous examinations, M-mode values were abnormal in 142 examinations only, whereas all 175 SMOD already had detected changes. Additionally, 19 of 154 dogs with >100 VPCs/24 hours and normal M-mode values had abnormal SMOD measurement. Six dogs with increased SMOD measurements remained healthy at several follow-up examinations (classified as false positive); in 24 dogs with increased SMOD measurements, no follow-up examinations were available (classified as unclear).

Conclusions and Clinical Importance: SMOD measurements are superior to M-mode to detect early echocardiographic changes in Dobermans with occult DCM.