Cardiovascular disease

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Cardiovascular disease appears to be increasingly recognized in pet rabbits as they live longer and their owners present them for more sophisticated medical care. This chapter helps the veterinarian to recognize clinical signs consistent with cardiovascular disease, formulate a differential diagnosis, perform relevant diagnostic evaluations and be familiar with appropriate treatments.

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14.1 Lateral and ventrodorsal radiographs of a clinically normal rabbit. Note the small size of the thorax relative to the rest of the body. The metallic densities are surgical clips used in a previous ovariohysterectomy.
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14.2 Lateral and ventrodorsal thoracic radiographs of a clinically normal rabbit.
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14.3 Lateral and ventrodorsal radiographs of an 11-year-old rabbit presented for weakness and subcutaneous oedema involving the hindlimbs. The ventrodorsal radiograph was difficult to interpret owing to malpositioning. Radiographic abnormalities included cardiomegaly, enlargement of the vena cava, decreased abdominal detail (consistent with ascites) and a diffuse increased pulmonary interstitial pattern. The diagnosis was severe decompensated intermediate/dilated cardiomyopathy.
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14.4 Lateral and ventrodorsal radiographs of a 5-month-old rabbit taken 2 weeks postpartum. The rabbit was presented for extreme lethargy, anorexia and weight loss. A gallop rhythm was noted during physical examination. Radiographic abnormalities included marked cardiomegaly with a globoid cardiac silhouette and an increased pulmonary interstitial pattern indicating pulmonary oedema. The echocardiographic diagnosis was decompensated dilated cardiomyopathy.
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14.5 Lateral radiograph of a 7-year-old rabbit presenting with lethargy, tachypnoea, increased respiratory effort and coughing at night. A large amount of pleural effusion was evident on radiography and prevented evaluation of the cardiac silhouette, cranial mediastinum and pulmonary vasculature. Pleurocentesis yielded a total of 90 ml of fluid from the right and left pleural cavities. The echocardiographic diagnosis was severe dilated cardiomyopathy. (Courtesy of Joan Ogden DVM)
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14.7 Electrocardiogram from a clinically normal rabbit. (Reproduced from , with permission)
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14.10 Lateral radiograph of a geriatric rabbit, showing a calcification of the aorta (arrowed). The aetiology was unknown.
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