The goals of this study were to present a technique of digitalised sound recordings and phonocardiograms (dPCGs), and to analyse its diagnostic capabilities. Heart sounds of 20 dogs were auscultated in vivo (on-line) and recorded with dPCGs by two authors using a Welch Allyn Meditron Stethoscope System. Sound recordings were auscultated off-line and blindly by four different observers having various auscultatory experiences, then listened to while viewing dPCGs. The results were compared to echocardiographic diagnoses. There was a significant agreement (p < 0.001) between on-line and off-line auscultatory findings regarding the four observers, ranging from 45% to 75% (weighted kappa values: 0.72 to 0.87). The best agreement was achieved by Observer 1 having the highest experience. Significant differences (p < 0.05) were found between Observer 1 and Observer 4 (with the lowest experience) in judging the quality of the murmurs during the off-line and blind auscultation. However, there were only minimal differences (95% to 100% agreements) in dPCG analyses among the four observers regarding intensity and quality of the murmurs while simultaneously listening to and viewing the dPCGs. Significant correlations were found between the traditional '0 to 6 scale' and a new '0 to 3 scale' murmur intensity gradings by all observers (correlation coefficients 0.640 to 0.908; p < 0.01 to p < 0.001). Analysis of dPCGs might be a valuable, additional tool helping with the diagnosis of canine cardiac murmurs, especially for those with less cardiological experience.
- digital phonocardiography
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