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Vets cure puppy's heart with Tri-State's first-ever procedure

A Labrador Retriever puppy named Maggie is recovering at home after undergoing the first minimally invasive heart procedure of its kind ever preformed in the Tri-State.

The four-month-old was born with a Patent Ductus Arteriosis (PDA), a congenital heart defect.

Typically the defect is fixed through open-chest surgery but Drs. Megan McLane and Maggie Schuckman of the Care Center in Blue Ash used a minimally invasive intravascular technique that drastically reduces the animal's recovery.

“PDA is a condition where the patient has an open fetal vessel that should have been shut down shortly after birth, but which instead continues to allow blood flow," according McLane. “This makes the heart much less efficient and can lead to severe problems as the puppy grows older.”

The surgery is called Amplatz Canine Ductal Occluder (ACDO). Doctors place a catheter in the major artery in the dog’s leg. They are then able to access the abnormal vessel and place the ACDO device, which acts as a plug.

“We’re effectively closing the vessel from the inside,” says Schuckman.

"She's (Maggie) doing great," says McLane. "She's getting tons of love. I don't think she's been in her cage at all today. (She's) wagging her tail, eating great... Other than her shaved spots, you wouldn't know that she just had heart surgery."

The procedure is more expensive than traditional surgery but McLane says the faster recovery time is making it the new standard at vet schools.

If left untreated, the heart defect is fatal.