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A month ago, on a Sunday evening, I received a message from a friend that a dear friend of hers had a sick dog. Over the weekend, the dog, Mia Ali, developed shortness of breath and had extreme difficulty breathing. The family took the dog to an area emergency room for evaluation. There she was diagnosed with a diaphragmatic hernia, which occurs when abdominal contents pass through the diaphragm (muscle tissue that separates the chest from the abdomen). This condition can occur either from severe trauma or a birth defect. The emergency-room veterinarian urged the family to rush Mia Ali to a specialty hospital outside of NYC where they were faced with excessive wait times and no further consultation. Luckily, during their travel over the weekend, Mia’s breathing had improved and she seemed well enough to wait for further evaluation.
Mia was brought to Catskill Veterinary Services for a second opinion. We were able to confirm the diaphragmatic hernia diagnosis and discussed the need for surgery as well as the risks with the procedure.
Mia’s owners noted that she has always been very active and healthy; she is just a two-year-old boxer. Her family did notice, however, that Mia has always been an extremely picky eater, often not finishing her meal. Understanding the risks with the possibility of an even better outcome, Mia’s family elected to move forward with the procedure.
The surgical procedure involves opening up the abdomen, finding the hole in the diaphragm, and returning the displaced organs back into their normal position. Upon entering her abdominal cavity, we had discovered that two thirds of Mia’s stomach, spleen and part of her intestines were in her chest; none of which was supposed to be there, even with a diaphragmatic hernia diagnosis. This was putting additional strain on her left lung lobe, causing the lung to collapse from the additional pressure. Thankfully, we were able to make the hole slightly larger in the diaphragm to extract the organs for placement in their appropriate locations. A specialized tube was placed in Mia’s chest to allow her lung to re-expand.
During the post-surgical period, Mia did extremely well. Her heart rate and other vitals remained stable and she was standing up and walking around within an hour: a miraculous response for such an invasive surgery. Now one month out of surgery, Mia passed her recheck visit with flying colors and has shown no breathing or activity issues following her surgery. Diaphragmatic hernias are not extremely common, but when they occur, they require urgent attention, particularly those following traumatic events such as being hit by a car. Congenital issues, such as in Mia’s case, allow us some time to address, but surgery is always strongly recommended.
Catskill Veterinary Services, PLLC