Saturday, May 21, 2005

Thought I would explain about Camille. Turned out she had a persistent right aortic arch (PRAA) -- vascular ring anomalies are congenital malformations of the large vessels of the heart that result in entrapment or compression of the esophagus and esophageal obstruction. The most common vascular ring anomaly in dogs and cats is PRAA (but far less common in cats -- leave it to me to find the feral kitten with a life-threatening birth defect!). PRAA occurs as the result of an error in development of the aorta. In an embryo, there are two nonfunctional aortas, the left and the right. As the embryo develops, the left normally becomes the functional adult aorta and the right disappears, allowing the esophagus to develop normally on the right side of the chest. In the normal fetus, there is also a connection between the aorta and pulmonary artery that shrinks to a small band at birth. In an animal affected by PRAA, the right aorta rather than the left becomes the functional aorta and gets in the way of the developing esophagus. The band between the aorta and pulmonary artery now has to cross over the esophagus and as a result compresses and obstructs flow through it. The segment of the esophagus ahead of the obstruction then becomes dilated when filled with food and water.

Anyway that is what she had. She had thoracic surgery at the tender size of under two lbs...successfully fixed the problem. Brave kitten! She had to continue being fed via her PEG tube (straight into her stomach) for many months to give her time to grow into her baggy esophagus (it was very stretched out from food backing up behind the constricted area) and for her esophagus to regain motility as much as possible....

Some time I'll post about the troubles along the way, and the horrid day when she was given a 50-x morphine overdose by an asinine tech....that was truly scary. But she survived it all, and is a big happy 12-lb cat who will turn two at the end of this year. As my vet friend Gary says, she has no business being alive, yet here she is, and Gary also says he hopes she will someday pull me from a burning building (or perform some similar act of heroicism to save my life) to repay me...but I don't think she will :-) Who cares, she is a happy cat and I love her.

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