Ebstein’s anomaly is a congenital heart disease of dogs characterized by downward displacement of the tricuspid valve leaflets (parietal and septal leaflets) into the right ventricle. It is considered a variant of tricuspid valvular dysplasia.
Consequently, the right ventricle is divided into an atrialized portion above the valve leaflets and a muscular portion below the valve leaflets. Due to high pressure in the right atrium, postnatal closure of the atrial septum is often incomplete, resulting in an atrial septal defect or patent foramen ovale.
As the dog matures, severe displacement of tricuspid valvular leaflets and valvular regurgitation occurs, leading to pulmonary hypertension, right-sided cor pulmonale and congestive heart failure, with consequential pulmonary edema, ascites and hepatomegaly.
In humans, maternal exposure to lithium and benzodiazepine has been implicated but such scenarios have not been reported in dogs.
Clinically affected dogs usually present with severe ascites, cyanosis, respiratory distress and exercise intolerance. On auscultation, there is usually an audible systolic murmur in the tricuspid area, and radiographic imaging usually shows cardiac enlargement, particularly of the right atrium.
A definitive diagnosis requires echocardiography and cardiac catheterization with intracardiac ECG studies. The echocardiographic features include apical displacement of the septal leaflet of the tricuspid valve, abnormalities in the morphology, or absence, of the septal or parietal tricuspid leaflets, eccentric leaflet coaptation, a markedly dilated right atrium, atrialized right ventricle, moderate-to-severe tricuspid regurgitation, and a dilated right ventricle, with decreased contractile performance.
Cardiac catheterization with intracardiac ECG studies often provides a definitive finding by measuring right ventricular electrical activity on the intracardiac ECG results with simultaneous right atrial pressure and waveform.
The prognosis is dependent on the severity of right side heart failure and concurrent conduction disturbances, but some dogs may live for years with this condition.
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