Comparison of a Smartphone-Based Electrocardiogram Device with a Standard Six-Lead Electrocardiogram in the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2017
Taylor J. Yaw1, DVM; Marc S. Kraus2, DVM, DACVIM, DECVIM; Allison C. Ginsburg3, BS; Leigh A. Clayton3, DVM, DABVP (Avian Practice); Catherine A. Hadfield3, MA, Vet MB, MRCVS, DACZM, DECZM; Anna R. Gelzer2, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, DECVIM
1Department of Surgical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA; 2Department of Clinical Studies-Section of Cardiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA; 3Department of Animal Science and Welfare, National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD, USA


A smartphone-based bipolar, single-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) devicea is capable of recording electrocardiograms (ECG) with an integrated smartphoneb application.2 To determine the utility of this device, a comparison was conducted of phone-based ECGs (pECG) to standard six-lead ECGsc (sECG) in four female Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) at the National Aquarium. Study animals were trained to haul out onto a dry deck in ventral recumbency and to allow simultaneous 30-sec ECG acquisition using the two devices. The pECG device was held against the thoracic wall caudal to the left axilla. The standard six-lead ECGs were recorded in the frontal plane as previously described.1 Instantaneous heart rates were obtained from identical QRS complexes on both ECGs. Three board certified cardiologists independently evaluated the rhythm and the polarity of the QRS depolarization for each recording. The results were compared between observers. The mean heart rate with the pECG was 80 bpm, (range 62–92 bpm) and 80 bpm (range 60–90 bpm) with the sECG. All four dolphins displayed sinus arrhythmia and one animal had occasional atrial premature contractions. Rhythm diagnosis and QRS polarity were identical for the pECG device and sECG. Dolphin vocalization created artifacts on the pECG that were not present on the sECG requiring acquisition to occur without vocalization. The pECG appears to be accurate and useful to acquire a diagnostic ECG in Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. This system is inexpensive and portable making it valuable for health examinations, transport monitoring, and stranding responses.


a. AliveCor, AliveCor Incorporated, San Francisco, CA, USA
b. AliveECG Vet, AliveCor Incorporated, San Francisco, CA, USA
c. Televet, Engel Engineering Service GmbH, Heusenstamm, Germany


The authors would like to thank all the marine mammal trainers in the Department of Animal Husbandry at the National Aquarium for their time and effort in training the animals for this study.

Literature Cited

1.  Harms CA, Jensen ED, Townsend FI, Hansen LJ, Schwacke LH, Rowles TK. Electrocardiograms of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) out of water: habituated collection versus wild postcapture animals. J Zoo Wildl Med. 2013;44(4):972–981.

2.  Saxon LA. Ubiquitous wireless ECG recordings: a powerful tool physicians should embrace. J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 2013;24(4):480–483.


Speaker Information
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Taylor J. Yaw, DVM
Department of Surgical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine
University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI, USA

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