History and physical examination

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Successful management of the animal with cardiorespiratory disease depends on accurate anatomical localization of disease and efficient diagnostic planning. Determination of the history of the complaint, assessment of the pattern of breathing, and careful examination and auscultation will assist in determining the site responsible for generation of cardiorespiratory complaints. This chapter considers History; General physical examination; Cardiac auscultation; Thoracic auscultation and percussion; and Clinical signs of heart failure.

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5.1 Jugular venous distension can be detected by palpation or observation, which is facilitated by soaking the neck with alcohol or shaving the jugular furrow.
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5.2 Timing of heart sounds in relation to the electrical activity of the heart. Normal heart sounds in the dog and cat consist of S1, which occurs after closure of the atrioventricular valves, and S2, which occurs after closure of the aortic and pulmonic valves.
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5.3 Auscultation of the larynx allows isolation of upper airway sounds in dogs and cats. This can be particularly helpful when auscultating a brachycephalic dog to provide differentiation of stertorous upper airway sounds from normal lung sounds.
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5.4 Percussion is performed by placing one hand on the thoracic wall and rapping the fingers with the other hand to detect differences in pitch caused by accumulation of air or fluid in the pleural space or lung.
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