Cardiology - Appointments
We operate primarily on a referral basis, with the patient's primary veterinarian referring them to the NCSU Cardiology Service by calling us to discuss the patient's condition.
Referral is not required for second opinions, breed-related certifications for congenital heart disease, or treatment of heartworm infection. By speaking with the primary veterinarian prior to the appointment, we are often better able to determine the severity of the problem, which of our services the patient is likely to need, how soon the patient needs to be seen, and whether any of the other specialty services at the NCSU-VHC should be consulted. We will also discuss our policies and fees at the time the referral is made, and formulate a plan for communicating our findings to the primary veterinarian.
After the referral has been made, owners may call us to make the appointment. We will collect owner and patient demographic information, provide an estimate of charges, discuss some of the diagnostic procedures that may be required, and answer any questions the owner may have regarding the visit. In order to have the best chance of getting a complete diagnostic work-up done in one day, we try to schedule new patients in the morning between 9:00-10:30 every day except Thursday which is reserved for interventional cardiac catheterization or other semi-elective surgical procedures.
What will happen during an appointment?
- Examination: Generally, a 4th-year veterinary student will escort the client and patient into an exam room to take a complete history while they perform a physical examination on the patient. This will take approximately thirty minutes.
- Review: The student will then leave the room for about fifteen minutes to consult with one of our faculty cardiologists. At this time, the student and the cardiologist will also review any diagnostic material that the referring veterinarian has sent. The cardiologist will then introduce him or herself to the client and examine the patient. New patients usually need to be left with us for the day to allow enough time to complete the diagnostic tests needed to evaluate the heart and cardiovascular system.
- Diagnostic tests for patients suspected of having heart disease often include electrocardiography, echocardiography, radiography, and various blood tests. Patients may need to be lightly sedated to complete the evaluation, since several of these tests require the patient to be absolutely still for several minutes at a time.
- Discharge: At the time of discharge from the hospital (usually between 4PM-6PM), the cardiologist will discuss the patient's condition with the owner and answer any questions. We will also send home detailed written information about the physical findings, diagnostic test results, diagnoses, medications, and recommendations for ongoing care. A copy of these instructions will be faxed to the referring veterinarian.
While a patient is hospitalized, the cardiologist and student on the case will arrange mutually convenient times every day for the owner to call (or be available to be called) to get an update on the patient's condition, and answer any questions that may arise. We will also arrange mutually convenient times for the owner to visit the patient, if desired.
Information Needed for Initial Evaluation
- Brief description of the reason for the appointment with the Cardiology service, including all of the patient's symptoms even those that may not seem significant.
- List of medications patient is receiving, including any over the counter drugs, herbs or metabolic supplements, as well as any problems the patient may be having with the medications.
Fees and Payment
The average fee for an outpatient cardiac evaluation (includes blood pressure, chest radiographs, electrocardiogram and echocardiogram, sedation and blood work) by a board certified cardiologist is $550 - $750. Patients with complex congenital heart disease, medical complications, or those in whom congestive heart failure is severe enough to require hospitalization will generally incur greater costs, which will be discussed with the owner prior to any procedures or hospitalization.
The average total cost for some uncomplicated common interventional procedures that we perform routinely are as follows:
- Pacemaker implantation (includes EMG workup): $2800-3000
- Balloon valvuloplasty (includes workup): $2800-3000
- Patent Ductus Arteriosus occlusion (includes workup): $2500-2800
- Heartworm Retrieval (canine/feline): $2200-2500