Desi Gets Her Breath Back

02 November 2018


At just 12 weeks old, Desi the Pomeranian was referred to us because she was showing signs of coughing, breathlessness and a heart murmur.

Ruth Willis, our Cardiology Specialist, conducted an ultrasound examination and diagnosed Desi as having a patent ductus arteriosus.

This is a congenital heart defect in which blood is able to shunt between the two major arteries in the heart. Before birth, the lungs of mammals are not active and so blood bypasses them through a vessel known as the ductus arteriosus. Shortly after birth, however, this vessel should close. Occasionally this doesn’t happen and blood is therefore re-circulated through the lungs and the left side of the heart, causing it to work much harder that it should. Without appropriate treatment, this condition causes heart failure and, often, early death.

Many patients in our clinic are treated for this condition using keyhole surgery. However, Desi is tiny, weighing only 1.8 kg at diagnosis, and so this wasn’t a practical option. Therefore JackieDemetriou, Head of Soft Tissue Surgery, performed open chest surgery to repair the defect.

The operation was successful and Desi has recovered very well. When she came back aged 17 weeks, she had grown noticeably, and was no longer showing signs of coughing or breathlessness. Her grateful owners have reported that she is much more alert and active and is, in fact, giving her Akita companions the run around!

Desi is now being weaned off the post surgery medication and we are pleased to say that her outlook is very good.