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Keywords:

  • Cardiomyopathy;
  • Congestive heart failure;
  • Natriuretic peptides

Background

N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) can distinguish congestive heart failure (CHF) from primary respiratory disease in cats with respiratory signs with approximately 90% diagnostic accuracy, but the additive benefit of NT-proBNP to improve the diagnosis obtained from conventional testing in individual cases remains unknown.

Hypothesis

NT-proBNP will improve the diagnostic accuracy and confidence of general practice veterinarians in assessing cats with respiratory signs.

Animals

Ten cats with respiratory signs.

Methods

History, physical examination, thoracic radiographs, electrocardiogram (ECG), and biochemical analysis of 10 cats presented to the University of Pennsylvania or Tufts University with a history of respiratory signs were evaluated by 50 general practice veterinarians using an online survey tool. Participants were asked to provide (1) diagnosis of CHF or primary respiratory disease, and (2) level of confidence in their diagnosis (1, lowest to 10, highest) before and after disclosure of NT-proBNP results. Diagnoses (CHF, n = 5; primary respiratory, n = 5) were compared to the gold standard defined as consensus opinion of 3 board-certified cardiologists blinded to the NT-proBNP results.

Results

Overall correctness of the practitioners was 69.2%, and significantly increased after practitioners were provided NT-proBNP results (87.0%, P = .0039). Median practitioner confidence before NT-proBNP disclosure was 6 (IQR, 5–8) and significantly increased after disclosure (8; IQR, 6–10; P = .0039).

Conclusions

These data indicate a relatively low accuracy and level of confidence in the diagnosis of feline respiratory signs. Use of NT-proBNP assay in conjunction with conventional evaluation by general practitioners significantly improved their diagnostic accuracy and confidence.