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US vets remove heartworm from cat’s femoral artery
Stormie
Cardiologists removed a 13-centimeter heartworm through Stormie's femoral artery.

Removal ‘extremely rare’ in veterinary medicine

US cardiologists have removed a 13-centimetre heartworm from a cat’s femoral artery - a procedure which is believed to be a first in veterinary medicine.

When four-year-old Stormie was presented to specialists at UC Davis Veterinary Hospital, vets suspected heartworm in the arterial system. She had a history of heartworm disease and one of her rear legs had become lame.

After tests confirmed the diagnosis, cardiologists performed an echocardiogram which revealed a heartworm in the pulmonary artery and evidence of pulmonary hypertension in the lungs, from the heartworm disease.

The abdominal ultrasound that followed confirmed that the heartworm extended into her abdomen and down into the right femoral artery, cutting off the blood supply.

Acting fast to avoid amputating Stormie's leg, the team performed a CT angiography scan. This did not show any more heartworms but revealed there were abnormalities in the back right leg, likely secondary decreased blood flow from the worm. The scan also showed evidence of lung inflammation, which is also likely caused by the heartworms.

Cardiologist Dr Catherine Gunther-Harrington and Dr Ingrid Balsa, assisted by cardiology resident Dr Maureen Oldach, collaborated to successfully remove the 13-centimetre heartworm from Stormie’s right femoral artery without breaking it.

As blood flow returned to normal once they had removed the worm - and the tissue still looked healthy - the artery was repaired and the cardiologists decided amputation was not necessary. However, Stormie’s leg may require amputation in the future if the nerves and muscle in the leg do not heal properly.

In a press release, UC Davis Veterinary Medicine explained that ‘removal of a heartworm via the femoral artery is extremely rare in veterinary medicine’.

‘It has been reported only on a few occasions in dogs, but never cats,’ it reads. ‘Due to this uniqueness, Dr Oldach is currently preparing a case write-up for submission to a scientific journal’.

Stormie remained in the hospital for several days after her operation and was placed on a monthly heartworm preventative that she will need to continue for the rest of her life.
To avoid future amputation, she is now on a physical rehabilitation programme and her owner is hopeful that she will continue to improve.

Image (C) UC Davis Veterinary Medicine.

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Scheme to protect wildlife and reduce flooding

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 Natural England has announced a new scheme to improve flood protection, boost wildlife and create 160 hectares of new saltmarsh. The £6 million scheme in Lancashire will effectively unite the RSPBís Hesketh Out Marsh Reserve and Natural Englandís Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve. The completed reserve will be the largest site of its kind in the north of England. 

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Welfare event to discuss ethical dilemmas faced by vets

Students and ethics experts will host an event on the difficult moral challenges facing vets. Ethical issues, such as euthanasia and breeding animals for certain physical traits, will be discussed by prominent speakers including TV vet Emma Milne and RSPCA chief vet James Yeates. Other topics will include how to tackle suspected animal abuse and the extent of surgical intervention.

The conference will look at how these dilemmas affect the wellbeing of vets, and explore how to better prepare veterinary students for work. It will be held at the University of Edinburghís Easter Bush Campus from 30 September - 1 October 2017. Tickets can be purchased here.