A tiny six-month-old puppy’s life has been saved after vets at a leading Solihull animal hospital successfully carried out intricate micro-surgery to repair a serious heart defect. 

The Yorkshire terrier, called Roman, weighed just 2kg – the equivalent of a single brick – when he was referred for specialist care from the internationally-renowned cardiology team at Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service in the West Midlands. 

Fabio Sarcinella, an RCVS and European specialist in veterinary cardiology at the Linnaeus-owned referral hospital, used a pioneering minimally invasive technique to insert a medical plug measuring just 8mm in diameter into a key vessel in Roman’s failing heart. 

Fabio said it was a challenging case – due in no small part to Roman’s tiny size!  

He explained: “Roman had been diagnosed with a loud murmur during his routine puppy check, which we identified as a birth defect called a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). 

“The ductus arteriosus connects the two main blood vessels, the aorta and the pulmonary, and should close when the dog is born. 

“If it remains open (patent) it allows extra blood to be pumped into the lung arteries from the aorta which can lead to a life-threatening condition known as congestive heart failure. 

“In larger dogs, PDAs are routinely repaired using a minimally invasive approach. A small incision is made to insert a catheter up through the dog’s aorta to deliver specialised devices into the ductus arteriosus to close it up. 

“However, Roman weighed just 2.3 kg, making insertion and delivery of catheters in his vessels and heart extremely challenging. 

“In Roman’s case, we used an alternative technique to deliver a device only 8mm in diameter, an Amplatzer™ Vascular Plug II (AVP II), via a one-inch incision in his right groin, to block his PDA. 

“A heart scan performed after the procedure confirmed the closure of the PDA with no residual flow across the AVP II. 

“Roman was discharged the following day and is now completely cured and able to go on and enjoy life back home with his owners.” 

Willows’ internationally-renowned cardiology team has vast experience in minimally invasive treatment for congenital and acquired disease in dogs and cats. 

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. 

To find out more about Willows’ wide range of specialist services, visit www.willows.uk.net or search for Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service on Facebook. 

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