Detection of murmurs and gallops may help to identify cats with heart disease. However, auscultatory findings may be subject to clinically relevant observer variation. The objective of this study was to evaluate an electronic stethoscope (ES) in cats. We hypothesized that the ES would perform at least as well as a conventional stethoscope (CS) in the detection of abnormal heart sounds. One hundred and fifty consecutive cats undergoing echocardiography were enrolled prospectively. Cats were ausculted with a CS (WA Tycos Harvey Elite) by two observers, and heart sounds were recorded digitally using an ES (3M Littmann Stethoscope Model 3200) for off-line analysis. Echocardiography was used as the clinical standard method for validation of auscultatory findings. Additionally, digital recordings (DRs) were assessed by eight independent observers with various levels of expertise, and compared using interclass correlation and Cohen's weighted kappa analyses. Using the CS, a heart murmur (n = 88 cats) or gallop sound (n = 17) was identified in 105 cats, whereas 45 cats lacked abnormal heart sounds. There was good total agreement (83-90%) between the two observers using the CS. In contrast, there was only moderate agreement (P <0.001) between results from the CS and the DRs for murmurs, and poor agreement for gallops. The CS was more sensitive compared with the DRs with regard to murmurs and gallops. Agreement among the eight observers was good-to-excellent for murmur detection (81%). In conclusion, DRs made with the ES are less sensitive but comparably specific to a CS at detecting abnormal heart sounds in cats.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Small Animals