Police dog undergoes complex surgery, will return to service soon

Akash got a new lease of life, thanks to the veterinarians at the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS).

The doctors performed a subtotal pericardiectomy, a complex surgical procedure, by opening up the police dog’s chest cavity.

The two-and-a-half-hour surgery was performed on the eight-year-old labrador retriever on Friday. Akash has made a quick recovery and will be a ready for action soon.

“We removed a part of the pericardium, a membrane enclosing the heart. It is a complicated, technically demanding surgery. This is a rarest of rare case of a dog undergoing such a surgery in the country,” said L. Nagarajan, Head of the Department of Surgery, TANUVAS, who performed the surgery along with Dr. Mohamed Ali and Dr. Pushkin Raj.

Fluid around the heart

The dog was diagnosed with idiopathic pericardial effusion, a condition marked by accumulation of fluid around the heart. It had breathing trouble and became intolerant of exercise. In the beginning, needle aspiration was done by Dr. Jayaraja, Professor of Medicine, to draw out the fluid. However, it was decided to opt for surgery after needle aspiration did not resolve the problem.

“It was a demanding procedure in the sense we opened up the thoracic cavity. We had to work around the heart and major blood vessels. Since the animal loses its ability to breathe on its own after opening of the chest cavity, it is put on a ventilator and a sophisticated anaesthesia machine,” Dr. Nagarajan explained.

R. Babu, Akash’s handler, said the dog had survived because of the world-class care offered by the veterinarians at TANUVAS.

Asked whether such a complicated surgery was required for an animal, especially after it had reached the age of eight, Dr. Mala Shammi, Professor of Surgery, said the objective was to improve the quality of life of the animal as long as it was alive. “It has served the police department and it needs better care,” she said.

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