Leading-edge cardiology care at one of the UK’s leading small animal hospitals has come to the rescue of a one-year-old bulldog. 

The pet, called Beryl, was found to be in real peril when her heart murmur was examined by the industry-leading cardiology team at Linnaeus-owned Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service in Solihull.   

Ultrasound tests showed she was suffering from a Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), a dangerous defect to a key vessel connecting the heart’s pulmonary artery and the aorta. 

Dr Simon Swift, head of cardiology at Willows and an RCVS and European specialist in small animal cardiology, said: “A PDA is one of the most common congenital heart defects in dogs and creates an abnormal flow of blood from the aorta to the pulmonary artery. 

“This can result in congestive heart failure, causing an early death, so urgent treatment is vitally important. 

“This important vessel should close naturally at birth but in Beryl’s case remained open and presented a clear danger.  

“Surgery is often used to solve the problem but at Willows we are experienced in using minimally invasive catheter procedures with exceptional results. 

“First, we passed a catheter through an artery in Beryl’s leg and up into the heart and injected a radiopaque contrast liquid into the aorta to highlight the size and shape of the faulty vessel. We used fluoroscopy to allow us to image and measure the vessel. 

“This enabled us to accurately select the correct size of plug (ACDO) and carefully insert it to successfully block the vessel and prevent the abnormal flow of blood. 

“Beryl recovered well after the procedure and it was immediately apparent her heart murmur had disappeared.   

“A heart ultrasound confirmed no flow through the repaired vessel and follow-up examinations confirmed that she is effectively cured of her heart disease and can now look forward to a long and happy life.” 

It is yet another success story for the world-renowned cardiology team at Willows. The hospital has one of the busiest interventional cardiology caseloads in the country, with a clinical audit showing more than 97 per cent of dogs treated at the state-of-the-art West Midlands hospital have a successful outcome. 

Owner Kat Ives, from Uley in Gloucestershire, said: “The team at Willows is just incredible, from the people we spoke to who arranged all the paperwork, to the receptionists, vet nurses and, of course, the incredible surgeons who saved Beryl’s life.  

“We cannot thank them enough for what they did for us and Beryl and would recommend them to other pet owners without a doubt. 

“We have a farm and work with lots of vets, from agricultural vets, equine vets and, of course, small animal vets, and the team at Willows is exceptional. We cannot sing their praises enough.” 

Willows offers specialist services in anaesthesia and analgesia, cardiology, clinical nutrition, dermatology, diagnostic imaging, emergency and critical care, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, soft tissue surgery and spinal surgery.

For more information on Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service, including their exceptional cardiology team, visit: https://willows.uk.net/.  

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