RVC Study Into
Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease (DMVD)
in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

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Cardiac MRI of a Heart

DMVD is the most common heart condition in small-medium breed dogs and is especially prevalent in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Some dogs may never show clinical signs, whilst others may develop congestive heart failure and premature death. Unfortunately no widely available test has been shown to be accurate in distinguishing between these dogs, which can make decisions regarding treatment and prognosis very challenging.

The Trial

The Royal Veterinary College is conducting a study to validate the use of a new ultrasound scoring system to grade the severity of DMVD. Cardiac ultrasound (echocardiography) is available to vets in general practice as well as in specialist centres, so that if proves to be accurate, this scoring system for valve disease could be widely adopted.

Who is eligible?

We are currently recruiting dogs under 15kg with a heart murmur and evidence of neurological disease that requires MRI of the brain and/or spine. Pets will benefit from a free cardiac evaluation of their murmur, including detailed echocardiographic examination, which is our typical recommendation in such cases prior to anaesthesia. Additionally patients will receive a more complete and accurate assessment of their DMVD than is normally possible, using cardiac MRI.

Note: The RVC are only recruiting cases which require an MRI for investigation of new neurological symptoms. If they hear a previously unrecognised murmur, the dog has a known history of mitral valve degeneration or has a murmur that has never been fully investigated, the RVC are able to offer a free cardiac evaluation prior to the general anaesthetic. This will help to further clarify the source of the murmur and will help identify any cardiac risks that could be associated with general anaesthesia. The cardiac MRI images are collected once the patient has already had the MRI of their brain and/or spine.

The RVC are not able to offer the neurology investigations free of charge, however the patient will receive a FREE full and thorough investigation of their cardiac disease.

Ethical Issues

Performing the cardiac MRI will require an increase in anaesthetic time, however the free cardiac evaluation prior to anaesthesia will allow us to satisfy ourselves that this risk is minimised. If echocardiography suggests your dog is at imminent risk of heart failure, your dog will not be suitable for this study and instead we will give you free advice regarding management options for their heart disease.

Please contact us for further information regarding the study via email: or telephone; 01707666366.

Julia Sargent BVSc MRCVS; JCTS in Small Animal Cardiology

Virginia Luis Fuentes MA VetMB PhD CertVR DVC MRCVS DipACVIM DipECVIM-CA (Cardiology); RCVS Specialist in Veterinary Cardiology; Senior Lecturer in Internal Medicine

Holger Volk, DVM, PhD, PGCAP, DipECVN, FHEA, MRCVS; Senior Lecturer and Head of Veterinary Neurology & Neurosurgery
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