Eighteen echocardiographic images useful for diagnostic imaging, M-mode echocardiography, and Doppler echocardiography of the equine heart were standardised by relating the position of the axial beam to various intracardiac landmarks. The transducer orientation required for each image was recorded in 14 adult horses by describing the degree of sector rotation and the orientation of the axial beam relative to the thorax. Repeatable images could be obtained within narrow limits of angulation and rotation for 14 of the 18 standardised images evaluated.
Twenty-seven National Hunt horses were subsequently examined using this standardised technique. Selected cardiac dimensions were measured from two-dimensional and guided M-mode studies. Satisfactory results were achieved in 26 of the 27 horses. There was no linear correlation between any of the measured cardiac values and bodyweight. There was no significant difference between measurements taken from the left and the right hemithorax. Six horses were imaged on three consecutive days to assess the repeatability of the measurements. No significant difference was found between measurements obtained on different days.
This study demonstrates a method for standardised echocardiographic evaluation of the equine heart that is repeatable, valuable for teaching techniques of equine echocardiography, applicable for diagnostic imaging and quantification of cardiac size, and useful for the evaluation of blood-flow patterns by Doppler ultrasound.