A new lease of life for little Mertle
Mertle, a little Chihuahua of less then one pound, was about 2 months old at the time she was referred to our cardiology service. The owner was concerned about her poor growth and how quiet she was. The referring veterinary surgeon had noticed a loud heart murmur.
When I listened to Mertle’s chest I could not hear any individual heart beats. There was only a continuous noise almost like a locomotive. This type of murmur is caused by one of the vessels not closing that should close shortly after birth. Blood was flowing in the wrong direction and Mertle did not have enough blood with oxygen going through her body. This reduced her growth and reduced her ability to play.
An ultrasound examination of the heart confirmed the presence of this vessel, a so-called ‘patent ductus arteriosus’. Fortunately the heart had not been damaged significantly at this point.
The only choice was to close this blood vessel.
This can either be done through so called minimally invasive surgery.
In this technique a ‘plug type’ device is lodged in the vessel through a catheter.
However, at 460 gram, Mertle was too small for that technique.
This left only surgery to tie the vessel off through a cut made between two ribs.
I performed this surgery, which was successful and closed the vessel effectively.
Mertle recovered very well and never looked back.
Six months later she has developed into quite a Madam with a definite attitude according to the owner.
Mertle’s case shows how important it is to deal with problems before they lead to irreparable damage.
Thanks to early intervention Mertle’s heart recovered fully and most likely will not give her any problems.