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Real-time three-dimensional evaluation of the feline heart


To assess the feasibility of performing 3D echocardiography in healthy cats and to establish the standard range of dimensions for measuring the heart chambers in healthy cats.


Two-dimensional echocardiography is currently the gold-standard noninvasive diagnostic tool to assess heart disease in veterinary patients. While it has proven useful in diagnosing heart disease in cats, there are shortcomings. A main one is that we’re using a two-dimensional technique to view a complex, three-dimensional organ.

A new method, called transthoracic real-time three-dimensional echocardiography (3D echo) might help address this shortcoming. Like 2D echo, the technique is also noninvasive. However, 3D echo may be better at showing the heart in a more detailed and realistic way. 3D views help us see the complex shapes and function of a beating heart. 3D echo has been shown to work well in people. Recent technological advancements have improved the quality of 3D echo, so we can now use this technique on smaller patients with faster heart rates.

With this study, we want to find out if 3D echo can be used to measure the hearts of healthy cats. We plan to record a normal range of measurements for feline hearts to be used by other veterinarians as a reference. Our goal in this study is to start to build a “user manual” for 3D echo in cats.

If you would like your cat to be considered for enrollment, please complete our online screening form.


  • Healthy cats 1-5 years of age with no known history of cardiac or systemic disease.

Exclusion Criteria

  • Giant breed cats (e.g. Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest)
  • Cats diagnosed with heart disease or systemic hypertension
  • Cats who are taking drugs shown to affect the cardiovascular system
  • Cats with a history of asthma or other respiratory diseases

Study Design

Once enrolled in this study, your cat will undergo a routine cardiology visit, blood pressure measurement, and echocardiography. To measure blood pressure, an inflatable cuff will be placed around one of your cat’s legs, inflated, then slowly deflated – some fur may be shaved from the bottom side of the paw to allow better readings. For the echocardiography, a small patch of fur will be clipped from the chest and an ultrasound probe with some gel will be used to acquire video clips and images of the heart while your cat is being gently restrained on a table.

Most cats require a mild sedative in order to remain calm and comfortable during the echocardiogram.  Since sedation may be used, we ask that you not feed your cat after midnight on the night before your appointment. If your cat usually takes a sedative for car travel or veterinary visits, please discuss this with us prior to administering any medication so we can make sure it's safe to use.

The visit will take about 1-2 hours.


The procedures listed above that are part of this study will be performed at no cost to you. Should we find that your cat is ineligible for the study based on results of physical examination or blood pressure measurement, you will be informed about the abnormal findings, you will not be charged for the investigations already performed. You may be offered the option to continue with additional diagnostic procedures at your own expense.


Dr. Giulio Menciotti, Cardiology
Phone: 540-231-4621 

Mindy Quigley, Clinical Trials Manager
Office Phone: 540-231-1363 | Email:

If your query is urgent, please call the Small Animal Hospital at 540-231-4621.