N-Terminal Pro-B-Type Natriuretic Peptide and Phonocardiography in Differentiating Innocent Cardiac Murmurs from Congenital Cardiac Anomalies in Asymptomatic Puppies.

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Differentiating innocent cardiac murmurs from murmurs caused by congenital cardiac anomalies can be challenging with auscultation alone in asymptomatic puppies.


Plasma N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) concentrations and phonocardiograms recorded by an electronic stethoscope can differentiate innocent from pathologic cardiac murmurs.


A total of 186 client-owned asymptomatic dogs: 135 Cairn Terriers (age: 45-124 days), 20 adult Cairn Terriers (age: 7.5 months to 13.5 years), and 31 puppies of various breeds (age: 29-396 days).


Study design is a cross-sectional survey. Each dog was auscultated, and when a cardiac murmur was heard, a phonocardiogram was recorded and an echocardiogram was performed. Plasma NT-proBNP concentrations were measured by a single laboratory by an ELISA.


No significant (P = .41) difference in plasma NT-proBNP levels was found between puppies without a murmur and puppies with an innocent murmur (median 300 versus 326 pmol/L), and between clinically healthy adult Cairn Terriers and Cairn Terrier puppies. Plasma NT-proBNP levels in puppies with a congenital heart disease were significantly (P < .001) higher than those in puppies with innocent murmurs (median 1,102 versus 326 pmol/L). However, some puppies with severe pulmonic stenosis did not have increased plasma NT-proBNP levels. On phonocardiograms, innocent murmurs had a significantly (P < .001) shorter "murmur-to-systole duration ratio" than the abnormal ones (median 66 versus 100%). The "murmur-to-S1 (first cardiac sound) amplitude ratio" was significantly (P < .001) lower of the innocent murmurs compared with that of the abnormal ones (median 16 versus 58 %).


Plasma NT-proBNP concentrations within the reference range do not rule out a congenital cardiac anomaly. Murmurs longer than 80% of the systole are most likely abnormal, whereas murmurs shorter than that could be either innocent or pathologic.

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