Dog With heart condition first pet to get unique surgery

University of Florida vets and human doctors worked together to treat the dog by performing a surgery typically used for young human patients

A 2-year-old Havanese named Rumple not only had a unique surgery to fix a life-threatening heart condition, but he also may be the first dog to get such a surgery, reports the University of Florida.

Treated at the UF by a team of human pediatric and veterinary cardiologists, Rumple had been diagnosed with severe pulmonic stenosis. The condition narrows the pulmonary artery and obstructs blood flow from the right ventricle of the heart. The standard treatment is to pass “a catheter from a vein through the right ventricle into the narrowed part of the artery, then using it to guide a balloon that is inflated to relieve the obstruction and allow normal blood flow to the lungs,” according to a UF press release.

That wasn’t going to work for Rumple, however.

A tiny dog treated at the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital for a life-threatening heart condition is recuperating at home after receiving a procedure often performed in human medicine but believed to be the first of its kind in veterinary medicine.

“Rumple had an unusually thickened right ventricle with an abnormal tricuspid valve, which meant the catheter/balloon technique was impossible to achieve,”  said Simon Swift, D.V.M., an assistant professor of cardiology at the  said Simon Swift, D.V.M., an assistant professor of cardiology at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine in the press release.  “We knew if we could not figure out how to treat Rumple, he was going to die prematurely from his disease. So we asked ourselves, what are the options?”

After considering several other treatment options, Swift then came up with another idea.

“We discussed Rumple’s problem with our pediatric interventional cardiology colleagues at UF Health and agreed that the best option for Rumple would be to use a hybrid technique, where we’d place a bare metal stent mounted on a balloon but use a direct approach that involves entering the heart directly within the chest,” Swift said. “This would give us a more direct route to place the stent. As we inflate the balloon, it opens the stent, relieving the obstruction.”

It’s a technique that is often used in young human children.

According to UF:

“Swift assembled a team that included Curt Fudge, M.D., an assistant professor and director of the Pediatric Interventional Catheterization Laboratory at the UF Health Congenital Heart Center; Himesh Vyas, M.D., an assistant professor of pediatric cardiology at the center; and Mauricio Dujowich, D.V.M., an assistant professor of small animal surgery at the UF veterinary medical college.

Once Rumple’s chest was opened surgically, the medical team used ultrasound to determine where to place the needles and wires needed to allow the most straightforward access for the stent. They positioned the stent, inflated and deflated the balloon and tested their success by using contrast dye to verify that the obstruction had been cleared.”

The procedure worked.

“We were able to observe fantastic blood flow with no obstruction,” Swift said. “We knew straightaway that we had been successful.”

Rumple’s owner, Ligia Sandi of Coral Springs, Fla., says he is back to his old self.

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