The occurrence of cardiac abnormalities in canine steroid-responsive meningitis arteritis

Publication date 11th February 2019
Authors S Spence, A French, J Penderis, L Macfarlane, R Gutierrez-Quintana, L Dickson, K Holmes, G McLauchlan


To document the prevalence of cardiac abnormalities in dogs with steroid-responsive meningitis arteritis and to assess resolution of these abnormalities following corticosteroid therapy.


Steroid-responsive meningitis arteritis was diagnosed based on signalment, physical examination findings, complete blood count, biochemistry and CSF analysis. Echocardiography, C-reactive protein and cardiac troponin I were measured in all cases before and 10 to 14 days after commencing corticosteroid therapy. Fibrinogen was also measured in a proportion of dogs.


Fourteen dogs were prospectively enrolled. Increased cardiac troponin I was identified in five of 14 dogs and echocardiographic abnormalities were detected in 12 of 14 dogs, including spontaneous echo contrast (12 of 14), mild pericardial effusion (five of 14) and mildly decreased fractional shortening (five of 14). All dogs had increased C-reactive protein and fibrinogen was increased in 11 of 12. Corticosteroid treatment was associated with clinical improvement and normalisation of C-reactive protein in all dogs. The cardiac troponin I levels normalised in four of five and fibrinogen had normalised in all five dogs which were retested. Spontaneous echo contrast improved or completely resolved in 12 of 12 and pericardial effusion resolved in five of five dogs. Fractional shortening normalised in two of five dogs.


Cardiac changes are common in dogs with steroid-responsive meningitis arteritis and most resolve with therapy. Further investigation into the cause and significance of these changes is necessary in determining whether antithrombotic therapy or positive inotropic therapy is indicated.