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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 &
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
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
"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
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."
Angela G. Clendenin
Director, Communications & Public Relations
Ofc - (979) 862-2675
Cell - (979) 739-5718
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843
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