Antemortem studies pertaining to the manatee cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary systems are limited despite reports of cardiac disease in postmortem specimens. The objective of this project was to develop a technique for echocardiography in the Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris). Because of their unique anatomy, a ventral approach was employed by use of an echocardiography table designed specifically for this study. Fourteen clinically healthy, free-ranging and captive Florida manatees underwent echocardiography between the fall of 2011 and winter of 2012. Eight females and six males of various age categories were included in the study. Clear visualization of all valves and chambers was accomplished, and length and width measurements of the left atrium, peak aortic flow velocity, and ejection fraction percentage were calculated in most animals. Abnormalities observed during the study included atrioventricular regurgitation and severe right-atrial enlargement. Based on the results of this study, echocardiography in the Florida manatee is possible, which has both clinical and research implications in larger epidemiologic studies evaluating diseases of the cardiopulmonary and cardiovascular systems.
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