Cartilaginous Intrusion of the Atrioventricular Node in a Quarter Horse with a High Burden of Second-Degree AV Block and Collapse: A Case Report

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Second-degree atrioventricular (AV) block is the most common cardiac arrhythmia in horses, affecting 40–90% depending on breed. Usually, the AV blocks occur while the horses are resting and disappear upon exercise and are, therefore, considered to be uneventful for horses. However, if the AV blocks occur frequently, this may result in syncope and collapse. Identifying the cause of second-degree AV block is difficult and often subscribed to high vagal tone. In this report, we present an eight-year-old Quarter horse with a high burden of second-degree AV blocks and multiple collapses. The clinical examination, including neurological examination, blood analysis, 24-h ECG recording and cardiac echocardiography, did not reveal any signs of general or cardiovascular disease besides a high burden of second-degree AV blocks (~300 blocks per hour) and a hyperechoic area in the AV nodal region. An implantable loop recorder (ILR) was inserted to monitor the cardiac rhythm. The ILR detected several consecutive second-degree AV blocks and pauses above 5 s. However, unfortunately, no recordings were available during the collapses. Eventually, the horse was euthanized and the heart inspected. The aortic root was severely cartilaginous and appeared to penetrate the AV node, especially in the His bundle region, possibly explaining the hampered AV conduction. Nevertheless, it is still uncertain if the AV nodal disruption caused the collapses and more knowledge on AV nodal diseases in horses is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2915
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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© 2022 by the authors.

    Research areas

  • AV nodal histology, cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac cartilage, equine, His bundle, implantable loop recorder, syncope

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