Simba’s life changing surgery

This adorable wee chap came into Nelson Vets for a health check and vaccination with his littermates. His owners had noticed he was not gaining weight as fast as the others in his litter and there was something not quite right about the shape of his chest.
On his physical exam, Simba was diagnosed with pectus excavatum. Pectus excavatum, which is from Latin meaning “hollow breast,” is a chest wall deformity seen frequently in humans and less often in veterinary patients. In cases like Simba, the sunken chest is severe enough that pressure is put on the heart and lungs, causing trouble breathing, exercise intolerance and growth delays. Simba would get puffed very easily, and the x-rays of his chest make it easy to see why – His sternum was pushing up into the space where his heart and lungs should be.
The key in these more severe – even life-threatening – cases, is to catch it early. Luckily for Simba, this was picked up at his very first health check.
To move the sternum into the correct position, surgery was required. Simba was anaesthetised, and our Veterinarian Dr Grace Miller did surgery to place an external splint on his chest that was connected to his sternum with a series of sutures. Our senior nurses Teigan and Daniella managed his tricky anaesthetic and Simba recovered well.
Much to the delight of our team we got to see him frequently in the weeks that followed for his check-ups.
It’s now time for celebration! His dedicated owners have taken great care of him and his healing has gone well. On Monday, Simba had his splint removed. While we are sad that we won’t get as many fluffy Simba cuddles, it is amazing to see the improvement in his breathing and energy levels now that he has space in his chest and he can live a long and full life. Go Forth Simba!

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