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Hole In Dog's Heart Repaired at Texas A&M

Posted December 06, 2005

The Amplatzer septal occluder device, donated by AGA Medical, was used to plug the hole in Peschi's heart. (Click here to view larger image) Veterinary and human doctors are shown preparing equipment for the non-invasive heart procedure. Peschi prior to her heart procedure. The team of doctors involved in the cardiac procedure (L-R): Dr. Gary Stapleton, Texas Children's Hospital; Dr. John Oslund, AGA Medical; Dr. Ronald Grifka, Texas Children's Hospital; Dr. Theresa Fossum, CVM; Dr. Matthew Miller, CVM; and Dr. Sonya Gordon, CVM.

COLLEGE STATION, Dec. 6, 2005 - Thanks to a rare medical procedure, a pet standard poodle has had a hole in its heart repaired by a cardiac catheterization technique performed at Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

Veterinary cardiologists and human cardiologists, who have done this non-invasive procedure more than 300 times on humans, performed the repair at Texas A&M on Peschi, who was born with a hole in her heart. Four more dogs - all of them related to Peschi - have similar heart defects. Owners were told by doctors at Texas A&M that their dogs' quality of life would decline without the procedure.

The ground-breaking procedure - technically called non-invasive catheter based atrial septal defect occlusion - was performed Friday for the first time ever in Texas. A procedure using a similar device was believed to have been conducted at Purdue University within the past year.

Peschi, a 5-year-old standard poodle, was born with a heart defect called an ASD - atrial septal defect. It means there's an opening between the heart's two upper chambers and if not repaired, the leak will likely result in the development of exercise intolerance, breathing difficulty and eventually premature death.

"We learned a lot from this experience and from here we can make a few equipment adjustments and move on," said Dr. Sonya Gordon, a cardiologist in the Small Animal Hospital who assisted with the heart repair. She was aided by colleague Dr. Matthew Miller, also a cardiologist at the hospital.

"We're all still learning and there's a learning curve to this, but it has been a good day for us," she said following the procedure.

Gordon said the procedure involves inserting a catheter through a vein in the dog's back leg or neck and guiding it to the defect in the heart where a double-button shaped device is deployed. The hand-made device, called an AGA medical Amplatzer septal occluder -- then seals the hole in the dog's heart. The occluder, made of titanium alloy, was donated by AGA Medical, a Minnesota company, and costs about $4,000.

Dr. Ronald Grifka, who has performed the same procedure hundreds of times at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, said that a dog's heart is about the same size as that of a small child.

"The device is shaped sort of like an Oreo cookie with two discs at each end that serve as a wedge to block the hole in the atrial wall," Grifka explained.

The entire procedure took about six hours to complete. Peschi went home the day after the repair and is doing well, Gordon said. "We may possibly try to schedule some of the other dogs for the procedure before Christmas," she added.

Peschi belongs to Ronnie and Guinnette Peebles of Houston. "We believe this surgery is a stepping stone for other dogs with this type of defect," Mrs. Peebles said. "We hope this will lead to more awareness of this rare defect."

Contact Information:
Angela G. Clendenin
Director, Communications & Public Relations
Ofc - (979) 862-2675
Cell - (979) 739-5718

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