It may be fairly common among humans, but the first open-heart surgery on a dog happened only recently.
A Labrador Retriever was the first dog to undergo open-heart surgery in the UK.
In true Labrador style, Mabel stuck her tongue out and wagged her tail when she became the first dog in the world to have her life saved by the procedure.
The three-year-old Labrador from Leicestershire in England suffered from congenital tricuspid dysplasia, which meant that the key valves in her heart were fused together. This condition led her to suffer extreme exhaustion and heart failure since her ventricles only had two very small holes for blood to flow through.
The dog’s owner, Annabelle Meek, was aware the procedure is new in canine healthcare but she decided to take the risk for the well-being of her Lab.
Following this decision, Mabel was referred to cardiology specialists at the Royal Veterinary College’s (RVC), Queen Mother Hospital for Animals in Hatfield, Hertfordshire.
Mabel was put under anaesthetic for the six-hour operation. Professor Dan Brockman, who is a professor of Small Animal Surgery, and a large team of RVC specialists performed the procedure on 15 February this year.
During the surgery, surgeons drained blood out of the main veins of her body before it entered the heart. They then returned it to a major artery once it had been oxygenated by the heart lung machine. Veterinarians injected a solution with a high potassium content into the arteries that go to the muscle of Mabel’s heart.
That fluid stops the heart beat and metabolic activity of the heart muscles. This allows the veterinarians to open the heart and inspect the structures inside. Because Mabel’s tricuspid valve was fused in the middle, vets had to slice it open to free it from the fused ventricle before stitching it back together. The newly stitched up valve was wide enough to allow the blood to flow more easily. The operation was a complete success and after just six days in intensive care, the Labrador returned home.
Annabelle was more than relieved.
“This was the first time anyone has carried out open-heart surgery using the new equipment,” she said. “Dr Brockman explained that he usually opts for a synthetic valve to replace the damaged one, but Mabel would not benefit from this type of operation.”
The relieved and grateful dog owner said the vet decided to repair the valve instead and informed her about the exact procedure he was going to do on Mabel.
“The operation lasted six hours. When he came out of theatre, Professor Brockman told me the procedure had been far more complicated that he had initially anticipated. Mabel’s valve had been closed since birth, so nobody knows how she had survived for so long,” Annabelle added.
The Labrador’s recovery wasn’t all smooth sailing. Mabel took a turn for the worse when she was brought home to recover.
“She went back into intensive care for another week after it was suspected that she had a blood clot,” Annabelle explained. “She soon recovered, and all of her swelling went down.”
A month after her surgery, Mabel is back on all fours and has started wandering around her owner’s garden.
“It’s more than half-an-acre and she has been ambling around happily following a scent,” the happy dog owner said. “I couldn’t be more thrilled at the success of the surgery. She has come on leaps and bounds. My dogs are all I have for company. My husband was tragically killed in a road accident and my son lives in Scotland, so my dogs are my life.”
Annabelle can’t express enough how grateful she is to everybody who helped with Mabel’s surgery.
“I would like to thank absolutely everybody. It’s been an enormous team effort on all sides. Every single person I met at the RVC, from the man on the gate to all the hospital staff, was so friendly,” she said. “After she came home, Dan phoned me every day to see how she was doing. The RVC should be very proud of what they have done for Mabel.”
Professor Brockman has been working alongside human cardiac surgeons and other veterinarians to develop his expertise.
“I explained to the owner and was very honest that this procedure would be really breaking new ground,” he said. “Based on what the human pediatric cardiac surgeons will do, and our limited experience of balloon-valvuloplasty suggests this is the best approach for these dogs. The operation itself is risky, much worse than most other operations. In our hands, for this type of disease, we have about an 80 per cent chance of getting them through the procedure. The owner has to gamble what life the dog has left against the promise of a more normal quality of life and life-span following the operation.”
We hope this amazing breakthrough opens a window of hope for dogs suffering from similar conditions.
Happy Tails, Mabel!
Source: Mail Online