Extensive pleural abscess associated with congestive heart failure in a pregnant cow: an unusual presentation of hardware disease

  • Domenico Caivano Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Perugia
  • Lorenzo Pisello
  • Piero Boni
  • Rodolfo Gialletti
  • Lakamy Sylla
  • Ilaria Porcellato
  • Chiara Brachelente
  • Fabrizio Rueca
Keywords: Bovine; congestive heart failure; foreign body; ultrasonography.


A four-year-old pregnant Friesian cow was referred to the Teaching Veterinary Hospital of Perugia University for right-sided congestive heart failure signs. Thoracic auscultation revealed decreased lung sounds and absence of heart sounds on the left side. On right site, increased breathing sounds and normal heart sounds were auscultated. Thoracic ultrasonographic examination allowed to visualize an extensive intrathoracic abscess displacing the heart against the thoracic wall with compression of the right atrium and ventricle. Congestive heart failure signs resolved after abscess drainage and the cow delivered a healthy bull-calf. Radiographic examination showed a thoracic radiopaque foreign body cranial to the diaphragm. Due to clinical condition worsening and poor prognosis, euthanasia was elected by the cow’s owner. At the postmortem examination, a diffuse fibrinous pleuritis with a large abscess on the left thoracic cavity containing a metal wire were observed. Multiple adhesions were present in both the thoracic and abdominal cavities. This report describes clinical, imaging, and postmortem findings in a cow affected by a traumatic pleural abscess and clinical signs of right-sided congestive heart failure. Pleural abscesses in cows, if particularly extensive, can cause cardiac displacement against the thoracic wall with right heart dysfunction leading to congestive heart failure.