Detection of intra-cardiac thrombi and congestive heart failure in cats using computed tomographic angiography

Kyle P. Vititoe, Ryan C. Fries, Stephen Joslyn, Laura E. Selmic, Mark Howes, Jordan P. Vitt, Robert T. O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Arterial thromboembolism is a life-threatening condition in cats most commonly secondary to cardiac disease. Echocardiography is the reference standard to evaluate for presence of a thrombus. In humans, computed tomographic (CT) angiography is becoming widely used to detect left atrial thrombi precluding the use of sedation. The purpose of this prospective, controlled, methods comparison pilot study was threefold: (1) describe new CT angiography protocol used in awake cats with cardiac disease and congestive heart failure; (2) determine accuracy of continuous and dynamic acquisition CT angiography to identify and characterize cardiac thrombi from spontaneous echocardiographic contrast using transthoracic echocardiography as our reference standard; (3) identify known negative prognostic factors and comorbidities of the thorax that CT angiography may provide that complement or supersede echocardiographic examination. Fourteen cats with heart disease were recruited; 7 with thrombi and 7 with spontaneous echocardiographic contrast. Echocardiography and awake CT angiography were performed using a microdose of contrast. Six of 7 thrombi were identified on CT angiography as filling defects by at least one reviewer within the left auricle (n = 6) and right heart (n = 1). Highest sensitivity (71.4%) was in continuous phase and highest specificity (85.7%) was in dynamic studies with fair to moderate interobserver agreement (0.38 and 0.44). CT angiography identified prognostic cardiac information (left atrial enlargement, congestive heart failure, arterial thromboembolism) and comorbidities (suspected idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, asthma). This study indicates CT angiography can readily identify cardiac thrombi, important prognostic information and comorbidities, and can be safely performed in cats with cardiac disease and congestive heart failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-422
Number of pages11
JournalVeterinary Radiology and Ultrasound
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • VetMousetrap
  • clot
  • feline
  • left auricle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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