Hole in the heart no holdup for Toby

October 16, 2018

A two-year-old Yorkshire Terrier puppy who was feared to have a life-limiting heart condition has been given a clean bill of health thanks to a leading Essex veterinary referral centre which diagnosed, treated and discharged him within 36 hours.

Toby was found to have a very loud heart murmur when he went for his second round of routine vaccinations and several months later he also started coughing – two symptoms which may have suggested a bad birth defect in the heart which would shorten his life.

But after Toby was referred to the cardiology and cardiopulmonary service at Southfields Veterinary Specialists, it was quickly established his cough was being caused by a foreign body and a collapsing trachea and his heart condition wasn’t serious.

Following advanced echocardiography, Toby was found to have a very small hole in the heart, which wasn’t having a significant impact on its operation and wasn’t the cause of the coughing.

Further investigations, which included a CT scan and bronchoscopy found the presence of the foreign body – later identified as a piece of grass – and the collapsing trachea. The grass was removed with special forceps during an endoscopy procedure and Toby’s cough has since stopped.

Southfields’ new head of cardiopulmonary, Domingo Casamian-Sorrosal, an experienced cardiologist and respiratory clinician and an RCVS specialist in veterinary cardiology and small animal medicine, carried out the investigation into Toby’s condition.

“A loud heart murmur often means a serious heart condition is present but because we established Toby had a very small hole in the heart, we knew this was not the cause of the problem and it was safe to anaesthetise him,” said Dr Casamian-Sorrosal.

“The collapsed trachea is a condition associated with Toby’s breed and although it often needs treatment later in life, it was suspected it had been worsened at this young age by the foreign body and the cough would resolve after removing it. This was indeed the case and Toby is now back to normal.

“A cough can be an indicator of a more serious condition where the heart has become very large or is failing to pump properly.

“It is common for cardiac and pulmonary symptoms to overlap and referring vets are often not sure whether the problem is in the heart or the respiratory system. Having a dedicated service which combines specialist care within both disciplines leads to very rapid diagnoses and treatments and offers peace of mind for owners and referring vets.

“We were able to deal with the problem within 24 hours and get him home within 36 hours. Toby will be back for a repeat scan in 18 months and we don’t expect he will have problems with his heart in the long term.

“His partially-collapsed trachea may need treatment in the future with a variety of tablets or a stent to support it. He’d be in good hands for the latter at Southfields, as we are one of the few centres in the UK to offer keyhole procedures in the heart, vessels and lungs performed by specialists with many years of experience in interventional procedures.”

Southfields is nearing the end of a major £1.5 million upgrade and expansion project at its Laindon site, which has seen ongoing investment in its services and specialists.

Southfields, which is part of the Linnaeus Group, now offers 10 specialist services and its multi-disciplinary approach means patients referred from service to service can all be seen under one roof.