The aims of this study were to evaluate left atrial size in cats with acute left-sided congestive heart failure. We hypothesized that left atrial size as determined by thoracic radiography can be normal in cats with acute left-sided congestive heart failure. One hundred cats with acute left-sided congestive heart failure in which thoracic radiography and echocardiography were performed within 12 h were identified. Left atrial size was evaluated using right lateral and ventrodorsal radiographs. Measurements were compared to two-dimensional echocardiographic variables of left atrial size and left ventricular size. On echocardiography, left atrial enlargement was observed in 96% cats (subjective assessment) whereas maximum left atrial dimension was increased (>15.7 mm) in 93% cats. On radiographs left atrial enlargement (subjective assessment) was found in 48% (lateral view), 53% (ventrodorsal view), and 64% (any view) of cats whereas left atrial enlargement was absent in 36% of cats in both views. Agreement between both methods of left atrial size estimation was poor (Cohen's kappa 0.17). Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis identified a maximum echocardiographic left atrial dimension of approximately 20 mm as the best compromise (Youden index) between sensitivity and specificity in the prediction of radiographic left atrial enlargement.
Left atrial enlargement as assessed by thoracic radiography may be absent in a clinically relevant number of cats with congestive heart failure. Therefore, normal left atrial size on thoracic radiographs does not rule out presence of left-sided congestive heart failure in cats with clinical signs of respiratory distress.