PDA – Mending Eevee’s Broken Heart

Little Eevee, a 21-day old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel pup, was destined to steal everyone’s heart, even as her own little heart was failing her.  Until the amazing team at Veterinary Specialist Services came to the rescue.

They were her knights in shining …… well scrubs.

Eevee’s owners discovered she had a patent ductus arteriosus and was in congestive heart failure and required life-saving surgery. Her owners were not about to give up on her and began the drive from Townsville to VSS Brisbane.

A patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) results when the communication between the aorta and pulmonary artery fails to close shortly after birth. This results in overloading of the left heart and eventual left-sided congestive heart failure. Often a PDA is diagnosed by cardiac auscultation during puppyhood and subsequent echocardiogram. Generally, they can be medically managed until they are big enough for coil placement into the shunting vessel. The ideal body weight for coil placement is 3.5kg.

Eevee weighed only 690 grams.

A literature search revealed that most puppies were aged at around 8 weeks of age and over, but Eevee was only 3 weeks old. The surgical principles remained the same, however, and the owners wanted to give Eevee a chance, despite the risks.

Eevee had an echocardiogram with Dr Brad Gavaghan, one of the wonderful VSS cardiologists, and he agreed there was no way she would survive to the body weight required for a non-invasive coil placement.  Open heart surgery was her only chance of survival.

Surgery was performed by the fantastic surgeons, Dr Wendy Archipow and Dr Abbie Tipler with operating loupes and delicate hands. Dr Brenda Dixon, anaesthetist extraordinaire, was in charge of keeping her alive for the procedure. Our hats go off to you ladies, what a magnificent feat of knowledge and skill.

The VSS team performed a left-sided fourth intercostal thoracotomy and the shunt was located between the pulmonary artery and aorta and ligated with 2-0 Silk. Recovery was uneventful and Eevee was returned to her Mum the next day to continue feeding (she was formula fed for the hospital stay).

                                                   

Eevee had her follow-up echo with Brad; it revealed the PDA was completely ligated with no residual flow and that Eevee should have a normal lifespan. She is no longer in congestive heart failure and has stopped her medications.

We celebrate Eevee’s amazing recovery and applaud this incredible veterinary team!

VetPrac is delighted to have one of these extraordinary surgeons joining us as an educator at the Fix the Face workshop on October 2-4, 2020. Dr Abbie Tipler is not just a great surgeon; she has a passion for teaching as well as performing surgery. In her words, “I absolutely love the thought that I could make a vets’ life easier or inspire them to try something different or learn a new skill.” She also suggests to not let anyone tell you that you can’t do a particular surgery, but pick the right cases with help from more experienced mentors and build gradually.

Indeed, Abbie’s suggestions for learning new surgical skills fit in perfectly with VetPrac workshop’s goal to teach “Practical skills for practical vets”.