Does medical or surgical treatment for aortic stenosis improve outcome in dogs?



Open Access Logo



PICO question

In adult dogs with aortic stenosis does treatment with beta blockers compared with surgical intervention show a longer survival time with improved clinical parameters?


Clinical bottom line

Category of research question


The number and type of study designs reviewed

Eight studies were reviewed. One was a randomised controlled study, three were cohort studies, one was a case series and three were case reports

Strength of evidence

Moderate to weak

Outcomes reported

Intervention appeared to improve survival times ± physiological parameters when compared to no treatment at all. The severity of clinical signs was reduced, but the risk of sudden cardiac-related death was not diminished according to a number of papers. The direct comparison of surgical treatment with the use of beta blockers showed no significant difference in survival times or physiological parameters across all papers. There is not enough evidence available comparing the different beta blockers used for treatment to draw a meaningful conclusion as to which is more effective


Treatment of some form should be given to a dog diagnosed with aortic stenosis. This will improve clinical signs and there is evidence to say that it will prolong survival as well as improve quality of life.
More research into this area is essential. Controlled, randomised clinical trials should be carried out in order to find a reliable and strong recommendation for treatment. Ethical implications need to be considered when going forward with this, which is why the evidence pool is likely to be so limited currently


How to apply this evidence in practice

The application of evidence into practice should take into account multiple factors, not limited to: individual clinical expertise, patient’s circumstances and owners’ values, country, location or clinic where you work, the individual case in front of you, the availability of therapies and resources.

Knowledge Summaries are a resource to help reinforce or inform decision making. They do not override the responsibility or judgement of the practitioner to do what is best for the animal in their care.


Open Access Peer Reviewed


Eason, B.D., Fine, D.M., Leeder, D., Stauthammer, C., Lamb, K. & Tobias, A.H. (2014). Influence of Beta Blockers on Survival in Dogs with Severe Subaortic Stenosis. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. 28(3), 857–862. DOI:

Hirao, H., Hoshi K., Kobayashi M., Shimizu, M., Shimamura, S., Tanaka, R., Machida, N., Maruo, K. & Yamane, Y. (2003). Surgical Correction of Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis Using Cardiopulmonary Bypass in a Dog. The Journal of Veterinary Medical Science. 66(5), 559-562. DOI:

Kienle, R.D., Thomas, W.P. & Pion, P.D. (1994). The Natural Clinical History of Canine Congenital Subaortic Stenosis. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. 8(6), 423–431. DOI:

Komtebedde, J., Ilkiw, J.E., Follette, D.M., Breznock, E.M. and Tobias, A.H. (1993). Resection of Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis Surgical and Perioperative Management in Seven Dogs. Veterinary Surgery. 22(6), 419–430. DOI:

Meurs, K.M., Lehmkuhl, L.B. & Bonagura, J.D. (2005). Survival times in dogs with severe subvalvular aortic stenosis treated with balloon valvuloplasty or atenolol. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 227(3), 420–424. DOI:

Muir, G.D., Panciera, D.L., Fowler, D., Bharadwaj, B.B. & Burrows, P. (1989). Medical and Surgical Management of Aortic Stenosis in a Dog. Canadian Veterinary Journal. 30(11), 894-896.

Nelson, D.A., Fossum, T.W., Gordon, S., Miller, M.W., Felger, M.C., Mertens, M.M., McMichael, M., Nelson, K.T. & Pahl, G. (2004). Surgical Correction of Subaortic Stenosis via Right Ventriculotomy and Septal Resection in a Dog. Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association. 225(5), 705–708. DOI:

Orton, E.C., Herndon G.D., Boon J.A., Gaynor J.S., Hackett T.B. & Monnet E. (2000). Influence of open surgical correction on intermediate-term outcome in dogs with subvalvular aortic stenosis: 44 cases (1991–1998). Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association. 216(3), 364–367. DOI:

Shen, L., Estrada, A.H., Côté, E., Powell, M.A., Winter, B. & Lamb, K. (2017). Aortoseptal angle and pressure gradient reduction following balloon valvuloplasty in dogs with severe subaortic stenosis. Journal of Veterinary Cardiology. 19(2), 144–152. DOI:

Vol. 6 No. 2 (2021): The second issue of 2021

Section: Knowledge Summaries

Categories :  Small Animal  /  Dogs  /  Cats  /  Rabbits  /  Production Animal  /  Cattle  /  Sheep  /  Pig  /  Equine  /  Exotics  /