Tilly, is a ten year old Cairn Terrier who was referred to our Cardiology Service after her primary vet diagnosed a mass on her heart, which was causing fluid accumulation (a pericardial effusion).
A CT scan showed that the large tumour was also compressing her major veins returning blood to the heart (vena cava), but had not spread elsewhere in her body.
Following Tilly’s admission to Langford, and a heart scan to further characterize the mass that had been previously identified by her local vet, Tilly, was prepared for surgery. The Cardiology and Soft-Tissue Surgery teams collaborated to perform two procedures: first, surgery to remove the pericardial sac from around her heart and prevent fluid recurrence. This procedure went very well and, under the same anaesthetic, a second procedure to relieve the compression of her vena cava was carried out. This keyhole surgery, performed through the blood vessels, allowed a stent to be placed and lift the tumour out of the way.
After three days care in our dedicated Intensive Care Unit, Tilly was discharged for strict rest and returned to Langford Vets for a re-check four weeks later. The stent was identified on ultrasound, securely in place and allowing her blood to flow unobstructed. Her owners reported that Tilly's activity levels and quality of life had improved significantly after the dual operation, and she had recovered uneventfully. Our Specialist teams are delighted with her progress and will continue to support her owners and monitor her closely over the coming months.
Tilly's case goes to show that palliative surgery to help animals with heart tumours is possible, even when a definitive cure is not possible. We wish Tilly the best over the coming weeks and months, and hope that she remains so full of life and energy.
We received the following thank you from Tilly's owner:
"Just a note to say thank you to you and your lovely team for looking after our sweet little Tilly.
When she became ill we felt like we were watching her die slowly and it just felt so wrong, so unlike her. We were watching for a glimmer of fight from her and we got it. She was so poorly and all of a sudden she yawned, stretched and thought sod this nonsense there is too much fun to be had and started playing with her toys. We decided then to get her the operation she needed, that if it gave her even another few months chasing rabbits, foxes, and rats it was worth giving up holidays for the next few years. We are now 5 weeks in and the change in her is amazing. We know that this is palliative treatment and understand the operation may only give a short time longer but seeing her chasing the ball, squirrels and pestering us twice a day to be taken out for her walks has made us so happy. We know that when the inevitable happens we have done everything that we can to prolong her happy life.
We felt straight away that she was in the right hands. You made us feel confident that we were doing the right thing and the knowledge and kindness of you and all your staff was very comforting.
Thank you to everyone that cuddled her when we couldn’t.
No matter how much longer we have with her we will always be grateful.
We can’t thank you enough"
Here are some pictures of Tilly making the most of life with her friend since her surgery.