Short Communication

The use of the standard exercise test to establish the clinical significance of mild echocardiographic changes in a Thoroughbred poor performer : clinical communication

C. Meyer, R. Gerber, A.J. Guthrie
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 75, No 2 | a461 | DOI: | © 2004 C. Meyer, R. Gerber, A.J. Guthrie | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 June 2004 | Published: 19 June 2004

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C. Meyer,
R. Gerber,
A.J. Guthrie,

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A 4-year-old Thoroughbred gelding racehorse was referred to the Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital (OVAH) with a history of post-race distress and collapse. In the absence of any obvious abnormalities in the preceding diagnostic work-up, a standard exercise test was performed to determine an underlying cause for the post-race distress reported. In this particular case oxygen desaturation became evident at speeds as slow as 6 m/s, where PO2 was measured at 82.3 mm Hg. Similarly at a blood pH of 7.28, PCO2 had dropped to 30.0mm Hg indicating a combined metabolic acidosis and respiratory alkalosis. The cause of the distress was attributed to a severe hypoxia, with an associated hypocapnoea, confirmed on blood gas analyses, where PO2 levels obtained were as low as 56.6 mm Hg with a mean PCO2 level of 25.4 mm Hg during strenuous exercise. Arterial oxygenation returned to normal immediately after cessation of exercise to 106.44 mm Hg, while the hypocapnoeic alkalosis, PCO2 25.67 mm Hg, persisted until the animal's breathing normalized. The results obtained were indicative of a dynamic cardiac insufficiency present during exercise. The combination of an aortic stenosis and a mitral valve insufficiency may have resulted in a condition similar to that described as high-altitude pulmonary oedema, with respiratory changes and compensation as for acute altitude disease. The results obtained were indicative of a dynamic cardiac insufficiency present during exercise and substantiate the fact that an extensive diagnostic regime may be required to establish a cause for poor performance and that the standard exercise test remains an integral part of this work-up.


Aortic Stenosis; Desaturation; Mitral Valve Insufficiency; Pulmonary Oedema; Racehorse; Standard Exercise Test; Thoroughbred


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