“Balloon Valvuloplasty” performed in new surgical wing at University of Illinois Vet Teaching Hospital


Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)

Dr. Gabrielle Wallace, completing a 3-year residency in veterinary cardiology shares details on a procedure she performed recently in the brand-new small animal surgical wing in a brand-new “interventional radiology” suite at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Here’s a photo of her patient, a 10-month-old Chihuahua, when she arrived at the hospital the day before the procedure.

Dr. Wallace performed a “balloon valvuloplasty” on a 10-month-old Chihuahua puppy.

The puppy was diagnosed with a heart murmur by a local veterinarian. Our cardiology team determined that the murmur was caused by malformed valves in its heart, a condition known as “valvular pulmonic stenosis.”

The balloon procedure is very similar to what people with heart problems undergo. A tiny catheter is inserted in a blood vessel and threaded up to the heart and the location of the problem valves. Then the attached balloon is inflated to open up the place where the blood flow was obstructed.

Dr. Wallace, “The valves were malformed, tethered to each other, and the balloon broke apart the attachments and now it [the valve] opens normally.”

The cool technology that makes it possible to do this sort of procedure where the doctor can fix the heart problem without making a big incision into the chest is called “Interventional Radiology.” They can actually see inside the patient, with X-rays, while they are doing the procedure.

Balloon valvuloplasty involves the passage under general anesthesia of special catheters which, when an attached balloon is inflated, tears the restricted valve leaflets. This treatment involves specialized training of the veterinary cardiologists and the use of expensive specifically ordered catheters for each patient.

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