Heart Month draws to a close, a beloved family pet is now enjoying a new lease of life thanks to a lifesaving cardiac procedure carried out by one of the country’s leading referral vet centres.

Joey, an eight-month-old golden retriever, had been referred to Southfields Veterinary Specialists in Essex after his concerned owners had sought veterinary help over his sudden weakness, lack of energy and swollen stomach.

Specialists at Linnaeus-owned Southfields determined Joey was suffering from two congenital heart diseases and carried out a lifesaving keyhole intervention on the pet, ensuring he is now able to lead a perfectly healthy life with his grateful family.

Southfields’ head of cardiology Xavier Navarro-Cubas said initial extensive tests carried out at the state-of-the-art veterinary centre revealed Joey had a catalogue of problems which required the intricate surgery.

Xavier said: “A physical examination reported the presence of heart murmurs on both sides of Joey’s chest, plus distended jugular veins and an abnormal build-up of fluids in the abdomen.

“Investigations, including a Doppler echocardiography, which uses sound waves to provide precise images of the heart, were performed to investigate the cause of Joey’s heart murmurs, and the results were dramatic.”

“It revealed the presence of two congenital heart diseases, including severe valvular pulmonic stenosis, a narrowing of the important pulmonary valve that can cause heart failure, and severe tricuspid dysplasia, causing the malfunction of the tricuspid valve, allowing a large volume of blood to leak back into the upper chamber of the heart (i.e. tricuspid regurgitation).

“The combination of both heart diseases had led to a marked enlargement to the right side of the heart, and secondary right-sided congestive heart failure, which is characterized by the presence of fluid-build up within the belly.”

Joey was immediately put on to medication and arrangements made for keyhole surgery to improve the narrowing of the pulmonary valve in order to prolong his life.

Explaining the keyhole intervention, Xavier said: “He underwent a balloon pulmonic valvuloplasty, where a catheter with an inflatable balloon at its tip is introduced through a vessel in the neck (i.e. jugular vein) and advanced into the heart and across the pulmonic valve.

“Once in position, the balloon is inflated to expand the narrowed valve to increase the flow of blood. The procedure was uneventful and follow-up rechecks confirmed a reduction in the severity of the stenosis by more than 50 per cent.

“Joey recovered very well post-op and was discharged two days later and he now enjoys a very good quality of life, with very good tolerance to exercise and no side effects to his treatment. We’re all delighted.”

Southfields Veterinary Specialists is dedicated to providing the highest standards of veterinary care for pets and providing a seamless service to owners and referring vets.

The referral centre offers specialist services such as anaesthesia and analgesia, cardiology, dentistry, dermatology, diagnostic imaging, exotics, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, radiation and soft tissue surgery.

For more information about Southfields, visit www.southfields.co.uk or search for Southfields Veterinary Specialists on social media.

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