Sample Size Determination for Evaluation of Time Domain Heart Rate Variability Indices in Canine Lameness

Melanie Hezzell, Jonathan Ferrari, Jason Arndt, Margaret Sleeper

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Heart rate variability (HRV) is a physiologic phenomenon that occurs due to changing autonomic tone resulting in variable RR intervals. A reduction in HRV is used as an index of pain in neonatal human patients. Objective measures of pain would be valuable in the evaluation of canine patients and assessment of response to pain management strategies. We hypothesized that dogs with diseases associated with discomfort (osteoarthritis and bone neoplasia) would have reduced HRV compared with normal, healthy dogs. The aim of the study was to calculate the sample size necessary to investigate this hypothesis.
Seventeen dogs from the Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania patient population or owned by Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania staff were enrolled in this single-blind, prospective pilot study. A 30 min electrocardiogram (EKG) was obtained from each dog using an ambulatory electrocardiographic monitor. All EKGs were obtained between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. EKGs were analyzed and time-domain HRV indices computed.
Sample size calculations suggest that 207 dogs would be necessary to ascertain if HRV is reduced in dogs experiencing discomfort or pain (50 in the arthritis group, 79 in the bone cancer group, and 78 in the control group).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-238
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the American Animal Hospital Association
Issue number5
Early online date24 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018



  • Pain
  • Holter monitor

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