Davies says its Cardiac Electrophysiology Laboratory, headed by Pedro Oliveira (pictured right), is one of only four centres in the world to perform the procedure, and it has usually required human medical support. The fact that they've been able to operate independently means the procedure should now start to become more readily available.
The procedure involves introducing special catheters via peripheral veins into the heart, where they are used to record the electrical activity of the heart muscle, thereby allowing the identification of the source and mechanism of cardiac arrhythmias.
Once the abnormal tissue is found, it is destroyed using intense localised 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.
In the past, the cardiology team at Davies needed the support of a consultant and a cardiac physiologist from the human field to help carry out the surgery. Having now done it unaided, Pedro is confident that in time Davies will be able to help considerably more patients, promptly after diagnosis.
Pedro said: "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."
Davies says that to date it has had a procedural success rate of 100%, 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 added: "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."
The Davies cardiology team can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Incidentally, Pedro has also co-authored (with Ruth Willis and Antonia Mavropoulou) a new book on electrocardiography. Guide to Canine and Feline Electrocardiography will be published in September 2018 and is available for pre-order on Amazon now, priced at £89.99.
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