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Clinic case of the Month

Mango's Diaphragmatic Hernia

One of our many beautiful patients is the aptly-named Mango, a young female terrier whose loving owner was increasingly concerned that Mango was severely underweight and increasingly lethargic, despite her best attempts to improve Mango’s body condition. The client recalled that her weight loss seemed to commence with an accident that had occurred about 18 months earlier, when Mango had been hit by a car but, having been examined by her vet, appeared to have escaped injury. After Mango started losing weight, she had blood tests done which did not reveal a reason for her condition. Many months later, when Mango was introduced to us at Selwood House, she appeared to be having breathing difficulties, taking large breaths as if she had just run a marathon.

We conducted chest x-rays of Mango (see images below) which revealed what is known as a "diaphragmatic hernia", a common injury from road trauma. The diaphragm separates the thorax from the abdomen but when it tears then the abdominal organs can move forward into the thorax, pressing on the lungs and making breathing difficult. Their breathing often briefly improves when you stand these patients vertically, because the abdominal organs shift back down into the abdomen, taking the pressure off the lungs. Mango had obviously read her veterinary textbooks, because she breathed exactly as described when we stood her on her little hindlegs.

Despite the risks and high costs associated with surgery to correct a chronic diaphragmatic hernia, her owner wanted to give Mango every chance at having her healthy, energetic life back. Following many hours of surgery, throughout which the dedicated Selwood nurses took turns to “breathe" for Mango via a manual ventilator, we repaired Mango’s diaphragm allowing her lungs to properly inflate for the first time in nearly 2 years. With her body no longer physiologically distressed, she rapidly returned to her healthy weight and full of the bubbly energy one expects of a terrier. Throughout her illness, her x-rays, her pre-op preparation and her post-op recuperation, Mango was always as sweet and delicious as her deserved namesake.