Dexter back on the pace after emergency op

A constantly collapsing canine suffering from a rare condition has undergone an intricate surgery at a West Midlands practice, where vets installed a pacemaker.

The seven-year-old German shepherd, called Dexter, was suffering from a condition called persistent atrial standstill (PAS), which was causing him to collapse to the floor every few minutes.

Fluoroscopy of Dexter. Yellow arrows indicate lateral borders of the heart; green arrow indicates permanent pacemaker lead; blue arrow indicates temporary pacemaker lead (this was placed within the heart prior to the procedure to guarantee an adequate heart rate throughout the surgery until the permanent pacemaker was implanted).

Dexter’s vet referred him as an emergency OOH case to Willows Veterinary Center and Referral Service in Solihull, where RCVS and European specialist in small animal cardiology Fabio Sarcinella decided to operate on the same night.

Collapsing episodes

Mr Sarcinella said: “Dexter was collapsing every few minutes, even with minimal exercise, as his heart rate continued to slow down alarmingly.

“We carried out an electrocardiogram which confirmed the diagnosis of PAS, which occurs when the top chamber of the heart stops working and results in a very low heart rate.”

In Dexter’s case, his heart rate could go as low as 36 beats per minute, causing his collapsing episodes.

Mr Sarcinella added: “In the circumstances, the only available treatment for Dexter was the fitting of an emergency pacemaker.”

Dexter recovered well from surgery and was allowed home two days after having been admitted to the Linnaeus-owned practice.


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