Cor triatriatum is a rare congenital heart disease of dogs characterized by the atrium partitioned into two compartments, effectively creating a triatrial heart. In dogs, cor triatriatum dexter (involving the right atrium) is common.
It is thought that the abnormal partitioning results from persistent valve remnants of the sinus venosus.
This defect primarily affects young large purebred dogs including the Boxer, Chow Chow, Cocker Spaniel, English Bulldog, German Shepherd, German Short-haired Pointer, Golden Retriever, Greyhound and Rottweiler.
Clinical signs are normally seen in young dogs (under 12 months of age) and usually present with signs of right-sided congestive heart failure, including tachypnea, decreased appetite, exercise intolerance, syncope, ascites and pale mucus membranes. A cough may be present intermittently, indicative of cardiogenic pulmonary edema.
A tentative diagnosis can be established by auscultation of a harsh holosystolic ejection murmur at the left cardiac apex. The intensity of the murmur correlates fairly well with the degree of stenosis and may increase as animals mature, reflecting progressive stenosis. Puppies without detectable murmurs should not be considered free of disease until they reach 6 months of age.
Radiographically, there is variable right ventricular enlargement and pleural effusion.
Diagnosis can be confirmed by cardiac catheterization, or use of M-mode and Doppler echocardiography, which usually reveal an abnormal membrane in the right atrium and retrograde flow in the caudal vena cava.
A differential diagnosis would include subaortic stenosis, ventricular septal defect, double-chambered right ventricle, hyperthyroidism, cardiomyopathy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, endocarditis, pulmonic stenosis, mitral valve endocardiosis and infections with Dirofilaria spp.
The prognosis for animals with clinical signs of congestive heart failure is poor
Surgical intervention can be employed in severe cases with balloon catheterization and cutting of the pinpoint opening in the abnormal membrane. Post-operative complications have been reported, particularly transient tricuspid regurgitation
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