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University of Florida to Launch Open Heart Surgery Program for Dogs

Under a new program at the University of Florida, open-heart surgery and mitral valve repair will begin taking place on dogs.

The program, which is first of its kind in the country, is a collaboration between UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine and renowned veterinary cardiologist Masami Uechi. It will start later this year.

“The plan is for Dr. Uechi to come with his team and equipment for a week in the spring to perform the procedure initially on one dog, then to return two months later to do four more cases. From then on, he and his team plan to operate on six dogs every two months,” said Simon Swift, a clinical associate professor and chief of the cardiology service at UF’s Small Animal Hospital.

“This will lead to a teaching and research collaboration between UF, the JASMINE Clinic and Azabu University.”

The surgery is useful in the treatment of degenerative mitral valve disease in dogs which causes thickening of the heart valves and a backflow of blood into the left atrium from the left ventricle to occur. This causes the heart to dilate and increases left atrial pressure which can lead to death.

“We want to give the maximum effort to save many dogs with mitral regurgitation, working with the UF team,” Uechi said.

“I am very excited to develop innovative medical and surgical treatments through academic exchanges between UF, JASMINE and Azabu University,” he added.

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