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Cycling’s Most Famous Puppy Glides Through Heart Surgery at CSU
Lance Armstrong has had a busy week. He got engaged to Sheryl Crow, kicked off sports headlines by suggesting he might go for an eighth Tour de France, and, on a more quiet note, awaited news from the surgical suite at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH) where his Labrador puppy Rex was undergoing life-saving open heart surgery.
Armstrong’s puppy was born with a defective heart valve that, left untreated, was causing physical limitations and putting him at risk for an early death from heart failure. The decision was made to bring Rex, now nine months old, to CSU where he would undergo the pioneering surgery necessary to save his life. Dr. Chris Orton heads up the cardiac surgery team at the VTH, the only animal cardiac surgery program of its kind in the United States.
Dr. Orton performed the heart valve replacement operation using bovine pericardial tissue valve. The new valve was put in and Rex' heart re-started. The surgical team then took him off the heart-lung machine, monitored him in the surgical suite for the critical first two hours, and then Rex was placed in the ICU/CCU to monitor him for the next 72 hours.
Dr. Orton says that Rex is through the most critical stages of the procedure. Rex will spend the next 10 days at CSU to monitor his heart function and blood thinner. He will remain on blood thinner for the next three months.
“This surgery is potentially curative as long as the valve prosthesis continues to function well and does not develop complications such as blood clots,” said Dr. Orton. “Rex will have to be monitored carefully for the time-being, but he should be able to live a normal life. Right now, he sure doesn’t look like a dog that just had heart surgery. He is doing great.”
(Photo of Lance Armstrong and Rex provided by www.thepaceline.com)