March 11, 2011: Monty-the-Bichon Given Pacemaker to Treat Heart Disease

Monty may be one of the very first dogs to receive a “Dual Chamber Pacemaker” as reported inMonty-the-Bichon and  Pacemaker the Herald Sun. Pacemakers are electronic devices that are placed in the heart of human and canine patients to maintain normal heart rates in patients that develop abnormally slow heart rates.

Single Chamber Pacemaker to Treat Heart Disease in Dogs

Typically a single electrode is threaded down the neck vein (jugular vein) and lodged in the left ventricle. The lead is attached to a battery powered device that is permanently placed surgically under the skin.
Single chamber pacemaker placement has become routine in human medicine typically when a heart attack has damaged part of the electrical conduction system causing excess slowing of the heart. Approximately 900,000 persons world wide now have pacemakers placed each year.

Veterinary Cardiologists first started placing expensive pacemakers that were donated by medical device companies like Medtronics Corporation, over 30 years ago. At that time the technology to place pacemakers through the Jugular vein had not filtered down to veterinary medicine. The lead was surgically attached to the surface of the heart and the pacemaker was then placed into the abdomen of dogs.

It is now not uncommon for specialists in Veterinary Cardiology with the aid of expensive fluoroscopy equipment, to place the lead by threading the lead down the jugular vein just as it is performed in human medicine. Dogs do not get heart attacks like humans and therefore the frequency of excessively slow heart rates is not as common in dogs as in humans.

Dual Chamber Pacing to Treat Heart Disease in Dogs

Dual Chamber Cardiac Pacing is an advanced technique used in humans that have advanced heart disease.  The purpose of the second lead is to help the synchronization the upper part of the heart (atrium) with the lower more powerful ventricle thus increasing the effectiveness of the pumping action. This breakthrough in human medicine is relatively recent and expensive. It is hoped that Monty will also benefit from not only normalization of his heart rate but help better manage his heart failure. Good luck to Monty.

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Dr Roger Johnson

Roger K. Johnson, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM (internal medicine) is a board- certified veterinary internal medicine specialist. His professional interests include cardiology as well as using advanced diagnostics to help his patients. His particular favorites include echocardiography, abdominal ultrasonography, and endoscopy.

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