In May of this year, for the first time in Dubai, Modern Vet’s team comprising of five veterinary surgeons completed a PDA surgery on an eight-month-old Pomeranian puppy who was suffering from a serious congenital heart defect, Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA). The Ductus Arteriosus is the communication between two major vessels leaving the heart: the pulmonary artery and the aorta. The diagnosis and treatment of Holly took place at Modern Vet, which is the only multi-specialty referral veterinary hospital in Dubai with the ability to treat PDA in dogs, as well as a plethora of other conditions. Fortunately for Holly, the surgery went well allowing Holly to live a long and happy life.

The second innovative veterinary surgery took place at the beginning of October of 2021 and was carried out by Dr João Figueira and Dr. Jose Botte of Modern Vet, with Dr Cristina Epifanio and Dr Despina Hleiss managing the anesthesia and ventilation. The patient, Jojo, an orange, tabby, female kitten was born with persistent right aortic arch (PRAA). PRAA is a congenital abnormality of the blood vessels of the heart that can affect normal functioning of the esophagus in some dogs and less commonly, in cats. To put it simply, an embryonic branch of the aorta fails to regress and is wrapped around the esophagus when a puppy or kitten is born. This puts pressure on the tube, preventing the passage of food in the esophagus when the pet eats, causing regurgitation, or spitting up of food. Though this vessel is normal in the developing embryo, its presence in the developed animal is problematic. The surgery took around 2 hours, which is longer than expected due to the challenge of operating on such a small patient. Dr. Botte explains “There were no relevant complications, but it was indeed challenging as everything is so small that identifying and isolating the relevant structure, namely the persistent ligamentum arteriosum, which is what compresses the esophagus in cases of PRAA, was very difficult.”

Jojo’s parents first noticed something wasn’t quite right when mealtime came around. Symptoms of a persistent right aortic arch became apparent once Jojo started to take in solid food. While milk slid down nicely, chunky foods became trapped in the esophagus, leading to a stretched structure and the inability to get food down, hence the symptom known as regurgitation.

These advancements in the veterinary industry are groundbreaking for the region with the U.A.E. at the forefront of veterinary medicine in the Middle East. None of this would be possible without the support and initiatives brought forward by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE). MOCCAE has also recently introduced animal welfare rules and regulations in protection of animal rights and working to fight animal cruelty and abandonment in the country.

Looking back on the surgery, Dr Botte had this to say, “The surgical team and cardiology department at Modern Vet worked together on diagnosing and performing this vascular surgery that will hopefully allow a very young kitten to live a normal, healthy life. This highlights the importance of initial veterinary visits in a pet’s life; only by diagnosing potential congenital anomalies at a very early stage do we have the possibility of offering curative procedures which, when the diagnosis is made too late are no longer an option. This shows the value of a multidisciplinary team of highly skilled veterinary surgeons which makes Modern Vet able to diagnose and treat complex conditions such as this one.”