College News

Hospital’s cardiology section expands ability to examine large animals

horseThe cardiology section at Cornell University’s Equine and Nemo Farm Animal Hospitals (EFAH) is opening its doors wider than ever before, having recently expanded its ability to see large animal patients.

The service has purchased a new state-of-the-art echocardiography machine and is staffed with a full team of board certified cardiologists including Drs. Sydney Moise and Bruce Kornreich. Drs. Eva Oxford and Flávia Giacomazzi, cardiology residents and experienced horsewomen, have trained intensively to gain proficiency in echocardiography and other disciplines required to diagnose and treat cardiac patients.

With these advances, the cardiology section can now better assist colleagues in the large animal clinic with consultation any weekday and out-of-hours for emergencies.

“We hope our expanded capabilities can meet the high demand we see for our services, particularly when it comes to consults—patients referred to us from other services at our hospital but outside the cardiology section,” said Sarah Miller, LVT, the cardiology service’s chief clinical technician. “If clinicians in other areas of the hospital find a heart issue in a patient they’re seeing for another reason, they can send the patient our way. We are very happy that our capacity has greatly increased.”

The cardiology section sees approximately 1,000 cases per year across all species total. About 40 percent of cases are consults referred by in-house clinicians—a large proportion compared to other services. In addition to all the services in the small animal clinic, the cardiology section works as a team with other expert veterinary specialty units, including the large animal internal medicine service, Equine Performance Laboratory, equine surgery services, anesthesiology service, and imaging service to provide the most comprehensive care possible..

The service’s capabilities grew in part because of the addition of the new echocardiography machine.. This specialized ultrasound machine uses sound waves to create moving pictures of a heart, showing size, shape, and how well the heart's chambers and valves are working. This imaging modality can also detect areas of heart muscle that aren't performing well, blood clots inside the heart, fluid buildup in the pericardium (the sac around the heart), congenital heart defects, degenerative valve disease, and bacterial infections in the heart.

The section’s new machine also introduces the ability to conduct high resolution three dimensional imaging of the heart valves in motion. It sports an improved speckle tracking feature, which allows the team to make more detailed evaluation of regional wall motion abnormalities. “Cows and horses are so big that diagnostic imaging can be extremely challenging,” said Miller. “The technology has advanced, and so has our team. Having two machines and a full staff complement will help us manage caseload demand on the fly. We respect that our clients often drive a long distance on behalf of their animals, and we do everything we can to meet and exceed their expectations.”

Visit this CUHA website to learn more about some of the most common equine heart conditions:

Published April 11, 2014