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Groundbreaking heart procedure used to save puppy

Cardiologists at Davies Veterinary Specialists in Hertfordshire have used a groundbreaking heart procedure to save the life of a French Bulldog puppy.

The four-month-old bitch was diagnosed with severe and deteriorating pulmonic stenosis. A conventional balloon valvuloplasty had failed so Davies Cardiology Specialist Pedro Oliveira and his team opted to implant a metal stent across the pulmonic valve. It is thought to be the first case treated in the UK with this technique.

Gracie, a French Bulldog puppy was referred to Pedro Oliveira, RCVS and European Veterinary Specialist in Small Animal Cardiology at Davies, for treatment of severe pulmonic stenosis. An echocardiogram confirmed the presence of a type B stenosis accompanied by marked right ventricular hypertrophy and also an atrial septal defect.

A standard balloon valvuloplasty procedure was performed without complications and the dog initially showed improvement but unfortunately she soon began to suffer episodes of weakness and collapse and was readmitted.

An echocardiogram showed that the right ventricular obstruction had worsened.

Pedro Oliveira and fellow cardiologist at Davies Jose Matos performed the procedure while another member of the team Antonia Mavropoulou guided them using transoesophageal echocardiography. Under a general anaesthetic the heart structure was carefully assessed using transoesophageal echocardiography and angiography to choose the correct size of the stent for Gracie.

“To be honest Gracie only had three choices: open heart surgery, euthanasia or this new procedure,” said Gracie’s owner Anthony Barton, who is from Bungay in Norfolk.

“Sebastian Szpakowski our vet at The Wherry in Bungay, Norfolk referred us to Davies and we believed the new procedure would give her the best chance. It was a knife-edge decision because we were so worried she wouldn’t survive the anaesthetic and all the complications but we are over the moon that we chose this route.

“Gracie is now leaping about and playing with our other four dogs and she has gained weight too. We can’t praise Pedro enough – words can’t explain what he and Davies have done for us. They have given kindness, compassion and care as well as Pedro and his team’s incredible skills. Gracie also needs a respiratory operation to rectify the congenital problem that many French Bulldogs suffer from and we have booked her in to Davies for this surgery when she is ready. I can’t recommend Davies more highly.”

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