For The Love of Ziggy

Photo: As good as new. Veterinary cardiologists and criticalists from Hope Veterinary Specialists in Malvern, PA who had reached out to neighboring human Paoli Hospital’s Interventional Radiology Laboratory for help in saving a little Maltipoo’s life, came to visit along with their patient and his owner. In Photo, Caral Wright holds Ziggy, from left, Hope VS’s Dr. Dennis Burkett, Erika Fauth, Cardiology Nurse, Dr. Steven Cole; and Paoli Hospital’s Dr. Atul Gupta and physician assistant Joan Bennett.

DACVECC Veterinarians reach out to neighboring human Paoli Hospital when complications arise.

Caral Wright of Media, PA wasn’t in the market for a dog, but couldn’t resist a classified ad for a five-month-old white Maltipoo. She named him Ziggy. Next thing she knew she was saving the little dog’s life. During his routine puppy check Ziggy’s regular veterinarian hearing a loud heart murmur suspected a congenital heart problem. She sent him to the cardiologists, who also happen to be board certified in emergency medicine and critical care, at Hope Veterinary Specialists (Hope VS) in Malvern, PA to be evaluated.

“Ziggy essentially had a hole in his heart,” explained Steven Cole, DVM DACVECC DACVIM (Cardiology), who along with Dennis Burkett, VMD, PhD DACVECC DACVIM (Cardiology) diagnosed the problem as a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), a rare congenital heart defect seen in dogs and even more rare in cats. They explained that the connection between the aorta (the major blood vessel supplying blood to the body) and pulmonary artery (the major blood vessel supplying blood to the lungs) should close at birth. This did not happen for Ziggy; without repair he could develop congestive heart failure and possibly die.

The veterinary cardiologists and criticalists repair a dog’s heart much like a human’s, by inserting a single coil or multiple coils into the connection between the aorta and pulmonary artery. The coil and the associated blood clot effectively prevent blood from going from the aorta into the pulmonary artery inappropriately. The coil remains in place permanently, thereby permitting the blood to clot and ultimately seal-off the connection.

During the procedure “before the blood had a chance to clot and secure the coil it slipped and traveled down the aorta, lodging in the vessels leading toward Ziggy’s hind legs,” Dr. Cole recalled. “We knew we had a problem but we also knew we could fix it by retrieving the coil with a snare.”

Hope VS was in the midst of upgrading its interventional radiology laboratory, however, and in the activity surrounding the upgrade an appropriately sized snare could not be found. With Ziggy still under anesthesia the veterinarians acted quickly to find a solution. They called their neighbors at Paoli Hospital, a human hospital in nearby Paoli, PA, and were put in touch with Dr. Atul Gupta, Director of the Interventional Radiology (IR) Laboratory. Dr. Gupta, along with the IR Lab’s physician assistant, Joan Bennett, came to the rescue.

“Dr. Burkett scrubbed out of the procedure and went to Paoli Hospital while Dr. Cole used a second coil to successfully close the ductus. We found several snares similar to what they needed,” said Dr. Gupta. Dr. Gupta quickly reviewed a quick set of instructions and the equipment to help Drs. Cole and Burkett through the case. Dr. Burkett returned to Hope VS, passed off the equipment to Dr. Cole who quickly and effectively retrieved and stabilized the dislodged coil. The procedure was successful and Ziggy lived!

Meanwhile, Caral Wright was waiting and wondering what was taking so long. “The staff at the VRC told me there were complications but assured me Ziggy was going to be fine.”

The veterinarians were able to retrieve the coil and moved it to an area where it could be removed surgically the following day. “Four days after the surgery he was running around like nothing had ever happened to him,” remembers Caral Wright. “I strongly believe I was meant to have this dog and save his life.”

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