Davies Cardiology team performs first cardiac arrhythmia surgery without human medical support
For the first time cardiology specialists at Davies Veterinary Specialists (Davies) Electrophysiology Laboratory have performed two successful surgeries on dogs to cure cardiac arrhythmia, without support from the human medical field. Davies, based in Higham Gobion, Hertfordshire is one of only four centres in the world to perform this highly complex procedure. While in many instances human medical support will still be required, the fact that on occasion Davies can now operate independently means that eventually this treatment option should become more readily available.
The Davies Cardiac Electrophysiology Laboratory, headed by Pedro Oliveira, was established in 2015 for the diagnosis and treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. Special catheters introduced via peripheral veins into the heart are used to record the electrical activity of the heart muscle thus allowing the identification of the source and mechanism of cardiac arrhythmias. Once the abnormal tissue is found it is destroyed using intense localized energy delivered by another specialised catheter - radiocatheter ablation.
This technique is common in human medicine but very rare in veterinary medicine because of the level of specialisation needed. Davies, under the expertise of Oliveira, is the only centre in the United Kingdom to routinely perform these procedures on veterinary patients. The Cardiology team usually needs the support of a consultant and a cardiac physiologist from the human field to help carry out the surgery. Having recently performed two successful procedures without the help of human medicine consultants, Oliveira is confident that in time Davies will be able to help considerably more patients, promptly after diagnosis.
He explains: “In three years we have treated one cat and 19 dogs. Several cases did not survive long enough for surgery despite a waiting time of only a few days to up to two weeks from referral to the procedure. Most of these dogs were puppies. This is incredibly frustrating as if performed early these procedures are curative for most patients.”
To date there has been a procedural success rate of 100% at Davies, with recurrence of the arrhythmia in just one dog. The remaining dogs were cured from their arrhythmias and recovered fully except for two dogs that had sustained too much heart muscle damage and continued to suffer from congestive heart failure.
Pedro Oliveira continues: “Hopefully in the future severe muscle damage can be avoided by early referral when the arrhythmia is detected. If you diagnose a cardiac arrhythmia, especially supraventricular tachycardia, please consider this treatment option because it is very likely to be curative.”
Pedro Oliveira and cardiology colleague Antonia Mavropoulou have written a book on electrocardiography with contributions from two Davies anaesthetists, Louise Clark and Frances Downing. Guide Canine and Feline Electrocardiography will be published in September 2018 and is available for pre-order on Amazon now.