Lung Ultrasound Combined with Cardiac Biomarker Testing for Diagnosis of Congestive Heart Failure in Dyspneic Cats

Area of Study: 

Purpose of Study: 

The purpose of this study is to determine if lung ultrasound will be a useful addition to the diagnostic evaluation of cats with respiratory distress (difficulty breathing). Causes of respiratory distress in cats include congestive heart failure (due to primary disease of the HEART), as well as primary disease of the RESPIRATORY system (lungs, airways, pleural space). Lung ultrasound is a new imaging modality that can help to differentiate these two types of diseases so that cats can receive prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Additionally, lung ultrasound is faster and less stressful than a current common test used for this purpose (chest X-rays). 


The study is open to any cat with a history of difficulty breathing (increased breathing rate or effort) who presents to the Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center.

Client Responsibilities: 

If you agree to have your cat participate in this study, the participation will be limited to a single visit (the visit when your cat presents with difficulty breathing). A veterinarian will perform a lung ultrasound examination on your cat while he/she is gently restrained (either standing or lying down). Some of the hair on your cat’s chest will be wetted with alcohol (no hair will be shaved) and the veterinarian will hold an ultrasound transducer up to the side of his/her chest to obtain images of your cat’s lungs. The lung ultrasound examination lasts approximately 2-3 minutes. The study also requires a small blood sample (3 drops) to perform a blood test (NT-proBNP) that can help detect heart disease. Your cat will likely already require a blood draw or IV catheter placement as part of his/her standard diagnostic and treatment plan for this visit, so obtaining this small sample will not require a separate needle stick. The rest of your cat’s visit will be unaffected by this study; your cat will receive appropriate treatments and additional diagnostic tests which may include chest X-rays and/or an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart).

Client Benefits: 

Participating cats will receive lung ultrasound and the NT-proBNP blood test free of charge (~$75.00 value.


Dr. Jessica Ward