Cardiologists at Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service in Solihull have performed a life-saving heart operation on their smallest canine patient – a puppy weighing around the same as a bag of sugar.
Tiny eight-week-old Staffordshire bull terrier puppy Teddy began to suffer dyspnoea due to heart failure caused by a congenital defect.
The team of cardiologists at Willows regularly perform cardiac catheterisation procedures; however, weighing in at just 2.2kg, Teddy was not only the practice’s smallest patient yet, but among one of the smallest dogs in the world to undergo such treatment.
The team took action after scans showed Teddy’s heart was significantly enlarged, with fluid building up in his lungs and causing major difficulties to his breathing. His condition was due to the patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) – a blood vessel that connects two major cardiac arteries – remaining open when it should have closed after birth.
The intricate closure operation required a 1cm incision and involved passing catheters via an artery in the hind leg and delicately plugging the PDA. The whole procedure, including anaesthetic, took about 90 minutes to complete.
Specialist veterinary cardiologist Mike Martin, who led the operation, said: “Teddy was already suffering heart failure, with severe heart enlargement. He was not going to survive another week without the PDA being plugged. We’ve gained a lot of experience over the years and we’re pushing the boundaries as best we can.”
On the mend
Mr Martin said the procedure went according to plan and Teddy was up and running the same afternoon.
He added: “There was a slight added pressure to the procedure, in that maybe he would be too small, but we made his owners aware of the fact it may not be successful and he might need traditional surgery. He’d been prepped and was ready for that, if needed.
“A lot of little dogs suffer from heart problems when they are too small for cardiac catheterisation, but instead have to undergo traditional surgery, so this type of interventional procedure is increasingly important.”