Megan – Breathing Easy

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As a typically boisterous Great Dane, Megan enjoyed good health in her first year of life. Soon after this she quickly developed severe breathing difficulties which left her unable to exercise normally and fighting for breath even when she was resting. Her local vet carried out X-rays which revealed an abnormal accumulation of air outside her lungs, within her chest cavity. Known as a pneumothorax, it meant that no matter how hard Megan drew breath she wasn’t able to expand her lungs enough to get the oxygen her body needed.

The vet administered emergency treatment with oxygen and also placed drains in Megan’s chest to remove the air surrounding her lungs, which allowed her to breathe more easily and removed the immediate danger.

The x-rays also showed an abnormal balloon-like structure on the left side of her chest cavity – this is called a bulla and is a collection of air that can suddenly burst to the surface, causing air to leak out of the lungs and into the chest. This was probably the source of Megan’s problems and would not resolve by itself, so Megan was referred to Northwest Surgeons for further investigations and treatment.

Our results showed that this structure had collapsed, meaning the only option was to remove the damaged part of her lung to seal the leak. With her breathing carefully and expertly controlled by our anaesthetist, I was able to dissect the lung away from Megan’s heart and her chest wall without damaging these vital structures. Her post-operative recovery was good and after only 48 hours her chest drains were removed.

The diseased part of her lung had been sent away for analysis in our laboratories, and the pathologist diagnosed lung necrosis, inflammation and the presence of a fungal infection. A four-week course of anti-fungal medication helped Megan continue to make progress, regaining her boisterous nature and enthusiastic manner.