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A ‘Heart’ Warming Story for Pom Pom!

22 June 2016

Lovely little Pom Pom visited our Cardiology Specialist team for investigation of a heart murmur. The heart murmur had recently been picked up by Pom Pom’s usual vets at a regular appointment for her puppy vaccinations.

An echocardiogram (ultrasound scan of the heart) here at Willows Referral Services, revealed an abnormal blood vessel known as a Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA). The problem is usually detected in young animals during routine examination when a heart murmur is detected. At that point most animals with this condition don’t have any symptoms.

This abnormal blood vessel is open during fetal development in the uterus, to allow blood to be diverted away from the collapsed lungs. When the puppy is born, this vessel should close to establish blood flow to the lungs. If the vessel does not close, persistent, abnormal blood flow results in overload of the heart and ultimately heart failure.

A PDA is usually managed by surgical placement of an occluding device inside the blood vessel, which stops the flow of blood through the abnormal vessel. The device is deployed via a catheter passed into the blood vessel via a vessel in the groin region. This technique is 'minimally invasive' which means open chest surgery is avoided and recovery is rapid. However Pom Pom was too small for this technique as she weighed in at a tiny 1.7kg (just slightly bigger than a bag of sugar)! Therefore open chest surgery was performed by two of our soft tissue Specialist team, Faye Swinbourne and Stephen Baines. The very delicate surgery required identification of the abnormal vessel and surgically tying it off. As you can imagine in a patient of this size the surgery is very tricky.

We are delighted to say that with the expertise of our amazing team at Willows, Pom Pom’s surgery went very well and she had a smooth recovery.

Her owners were absolutely thrilled to have Pom Pom back home and said “We can't thank Faye and all the team enough! We were overwhelmed and daunted at the prospect of Pom Pom needing major heart surgery and expected a fairly long and painful recovery and assumed Pom Pom would need round the clock care at least for the first week after surgery, but it hasn't been the case. She was quiet for the first day at home but then she was back to her usual self!"


Lovely little Pom Pom


Pom Pom with Faye Swinbourne, Specialist in Soft Tissue Surgery at Willows

Pom Pom with Faye Swinbourne, Specialist in Soft Tissue Surgery at Willows


Lovely little Pom Pom


Lovely little Pom Pom


See our Patent Ductus Arteriosus Information Sheet

For further information also see our Cardiology Service and Soft Tissue Service pages