The Value of a Cardiologist

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The images were sent to a telemedicine consultant for interpretation but results were inconclusive. In the end, an evaluation by a board certified veterinary cardiologist was recommended for a definite diagnosis and treatment.

Sophie was a bright, energetic puppy, other than increased breathing effort with activity. A loud heart murmur was identified. An echocardiogram, including color flow and spectral Doppler studies, was performed and Sophie was diagnosed with severe valvular pulmonic stenosis.

What is pulmonic stenosis?

Pulmonic stenosis (PS) is a defect of the pulmonic valve and is one of the most common congenital heart defects in dogs. The valve normally opens during contraction of the ventricles, allowing blood to be pumped from the right ventricle to the lungs. PS is a narrowing of this region (stenosis), resulting in the right ventricle having to work harder which can cause thickening (hypertrophy).

While patients with mild PS usually live normal lives with few symptoms, moderate to severe cases can result in:

  • exercise intolerance
  • shortness of breath
  • fainting
  • fatal arrhythmias
  • or congestive heart failure.

How is it treated?

The treatment for moderate to severe PS is balloon valvuloplasty, a minimally invasive catheterization procedure by which a balloon is guided by fluoroscopy across the narrowing. The balloon is inflated under pressure and dilates the valve, leading to improved blood flow. This often alleviates symptoms, improves quality of life and prolongs survival.

What happened to Sophie?

A month later, Sophie returned to her board certified veterinary cardiologist for the balloon valvuloplasty procedure. Sophie’s procedure was a success and her PS was reduced from severe to mild.

One year later, Sophie feels great at home. She is active and symptom free. Her family couldn’t be more pleased with Sophie’s progress and response to treatment.

Why a Board Certified Veterinary Cardiologist?

Congenital cardiac disease can be challenging to diagnose and treat. Fortunately, minimally invasive procedures for treatment have become available. A board certified veterinary cardiologist performs and interprets the echocardiogram for a precise diagnosis and most effective treatment plan. Collaboration between a cardiologist and your primary care veterinarian will provide the best possible outcome for you and your pet.

Provided compliments of Kacie Schmitt, DVM, Diplomate, ACVIM (Cardiology). CVCA has five convenient locations in Maryland. For more information, visit or call your local office at 410-224-0039 (Annapolis), 240-457-4387 (Frederick), 240-361-3820 (Gaithersburg), 301-984-5791 (Rockville) or 410-339-3461(Towson). See our ad page 67.