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ISU Student Experience


Chylothorax is a disease of dogs and cats where fluid that is normally carried through the chest in a tiny vessel to eventually be deposited into a large vein begins to leak into the chest. The fluid then accumulates outside the lungs in the chest and compresses the lungs. This results in a potentially severe compromise in the ability for the patient to obtain enough oxygen to sustain life. The cause can be from a myriad of diseases including heartworm disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, or trauma. The most common cause is what is termed "idiopathic" which means from an unknown cause and typically spontaneously arises.

Otis's owner was appraised of his diagnosis, treatment options, diagnostic tests and prognosis. Additional tests were needed to rule out cancer and heart disease as potential causes for the fluid accumulation. A CT (or "cat") scan, was perfomed and the results were very good as they outlined that Otis did not appear to have any problems with his heart or any cancer causing the problem and that he appeared to be afflicted with the idiopathic form, allowing him to be a good candidate for surgical correction. Historically, correction of canine chylothorax held a guarded prognosis, but recent advancements have allowed a published and clinically obtained 100% cure rate for this disease in dogs. This correction does necessitate a surgery in the patient's chest to ligate the small abnormal vessel after visualization and confirmation as well as careful removal of the bag that surrounds the heart (a.k.a. pericardiectomy).

Otis was transferred to the Surgery Department later that day for his surgery. Surgery was successful in identifying the tiny vessel and stopping its flow as well as removing the pericardial sac from around his heart. Otis recovered well from his surgery and the fluid production ceased and he has not produced fluid for over 5 months. Otis presented in critical condition and in less than 24 hours he was correctly diagnosed with his underlying disease, the necessary testing had been completed, and his definitive surgical correction had been performed. He was subsequently discharged to his owners 48 hours after surgery. We are happy to report Otis has now achieved a full recovery. According to Otis' owner, "Otis is doing awesome!" He is full of energy and playing like normal again. We couldn't be happier to have Otis back with his family, happy and healthy.




Published on October 4, 2016

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