Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Zoe's loud heart murmur

Zoe is a 10 month old female Papillon who presented to her veterinarian for a routine vaccination. On examination, a loud heart murmur was detected on chest auscultation, and she was referred to a specialist cardiologist (Dr Richard Wooley) for further examination.

A cardiac ultrasound was performed which confirmed that Zoe was suffering from a congenital patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). This is a condition in which there is a failure of a large blood vessel, the ductus arteriosus, to close just after birth. In the unborn puppy, this vessel is normal and allows blood to bypass the lungs which are not inflated or used during development in the uterus. This vessel runs from the aorta (the major artery from the heart, supplying oxygenated blood to the muscles, brain and organs of the body) to the pulmonary artery (Which supplies blood from the heat to the lungs). At birth, the vessel should close within hours, directing blood to flow into the newly inflated lungs.

PDA is the most frequently seen congenital defect in dogs and occasionally seen in cats. PDA is more common in females than males in most breeds.

Dogs diagnosed with a PDA have a greater than 50% chance of dying by one year of age if left untreated as it will usually result a cough and laboured breathing with significant heart enlargement and ultimately congestive heart failure (fluid in the lungs).

Zoe was subsequently referred to Professor Glenn Edwards at Charles Sturt University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital for corrective heart surgery.

The surgery was performed through a small incision on the left side of Zoe’s chest which allowed Professor Edwards to identify the abnormal vessel and close it down.

The surgery was successful with Zoe making an excellent recovery, and being sent home the following day. Zoe was seen again 4 weeks later for a check-up and found to be in excellent health with no heart murmur detectable.

As with most dogs and cats that undergo correction of their PDA Zoe has an excellent long term prognosis, and is expected to lead a completely normal life after surgery.