We have recently had a veterinary student Mark Short,
from Barwell seeing practice with us. Whilst he was
here, I emphasized to him the importance of a thorough examination,
telling him You miss more by not looking than not
In Ellies case, it was my hands on examination
which lead to a diagnosis. When I listened to her chest,
it was very difficult to hear her heart. This was because
she had a condition called a pericardial effusion.
The pericardium is a sac around the heart. In this condition,
the sac fills with fluid. Because there is no exit for the
fluid, it starts to compress the heart as it accumulates,
leading to heart failure, hence the fluid in Ellies
abdomen. We confirmed this condition by doing another ultrasound
scan-this time of the heart. Ellie was then sent as an emergency
to see a heart specialist in Kenilworth, who drained a pint
of fluid from the pericardial sac.
In Golden Retrievers, this condition can happen spontaneously,
with no obvious underlying cause. The good news is that
in 60% of them, it doesnt recur. In the 40% where
the fluid does come back, open chest surgery is needed to
remove the sac from around the heart so that fluid can no
longer build up and compress it.
Within a week, Ellie was 6Kg lighter, as the fluid in her
abdomen disappeared. Her waistline returned to its
usual trim shape. Unfortunately, Mr Dunstans wallet
was also considerably lighter her treatment totaled
£1250! Fortunately., Ellie was insured.
Mr Dunstan was meant to be playing golf on the day he had
to rush Ellie to the specialist. That would have only cost
Young BVSc CertSAM MRCVS.
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