OBJECTIVE—To determine the prevalence of various radiographic findings for dogs with cardiac
tamponade (CT) attributable to pericardial effusion (PE) and to determine the sensitivity
and specificity of such findings for identification of affected dogs.
DESIGN—Retrospective, randomized, blinded, controlled study.
ANIMALS—50 dogs with CT attributable to PE and 23 control dogs (10 healthy dogs and 13
dogs with cardiac diseases other than CT).
PROCEDURES—Thoracic radiographic images of dogs were evaluated by an observer who
was unaware of the dogs’ medical histories. For each dog, a vertebral heart score, globoid
appearance of the cardiac silhouette, and convexity of the dorsocaudal aspect of the cardiac
silhouette were determined.
RESULTS—The sensitivity and specificity of enlargement of the cardiac silhouette (vertebral
heart score, 10.7) for identification of dogs with CT attributable to PE were 77.6% and
47.8%, respectively. The sensitivity and specificity of a globoid appearance of the cardiac silhouette
for identification dogs with CT were 41.9% and 40.0%, respectively. The sensitivity
and specificity of a convex appearance of the dorsocaudal aspect of the cardiac silhouette
for identification of dogs with CT were 57.1% and 35.0%, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE—Results of this study indicated none of the evaluated
radiographic variables was highly (> 90%) sensitive or specific for identification of dogs with
CT attributable to PE. Thoracic radiographic findings should not be considered reliable for
identification of dogs with CT attributable to PE.