ECG stands for electrocardiogram and shows the electrical impulse as it passes through the heart and causes contraction (beats) of the heart. Subtle changes in heart size or abnormal electric waves can be detected and prevent potential anesthetic complications or even determine a patient is not ready for anesthesia at this time. Above is an example of a normal ECG reading.
Examples of Patients Benefiting
Sam a 3 year old male cat that presented for straining to urinate with minimal to no urine production. He was very out of it on exam and had a very large bladder on abdominal palpation. The ECG above shows hyperkalemia which is very common in cats with urinary obstruction. Notice that the waves are much wider and more bizarre then the normal ECG waves. This is important to identify because hyperkalemia with this kind of cardiac changes can be very deadly and hyperkalemia was addressed prior to anesthesia. This allowed for a much better outcome.
Jack is an 8 year old Boxer that presented for a routine dental cleaning. On exam, he was very alert, gum color was normal, lungs sounded clear, and heart seemed normal but was difficult to fully access due to Jack being very active and playful. His ECG reveal ventricular pre-mature contractions consistent with Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy or commonly referred to as 'boxer Cardiomyopathy". A dental cleaning was cancelled and Jack was seen by cardiologist and started on medications for his heart.