While ultrasound (US) has become much more familiar to pet owners as a useful diagnostic tool, I find that CT is a.... more scary? More nebulous? concept for pet owners. There are times that after an US, CT is a recommended step. But very seldom does that happen.
I wanted to learn more about CT myself, so I could (hopefully!) make it less scary or nebulous for pet owners.
Cue Rocket! 🚀. #RocketMan
This adorable ball of fluff is "Rocket" at 6 weeks old. He is a Golden Retriever. His breeder brought him to the emergency clinic for seizures and acting "different" than his littermates. He was also smaller than the rest.
Rocket's bloodwork and elevated blood Ammonia level were suspicious for a PSS (PortoSystemic Shunt).
A PSS is when a puppy is born with a "faulty connection" causing blood coming from the gut heading to the liver to be detoxified to skip past the liver. This "un-detoxified" blood is then pumped to the body and brain. These toxins cause various symptoms, depending on how much blood is being shunted away from the liver. In Rocket's case, seizures and odd behavior after meals in particular.
His breeder then to brought him to see Dr. Barker at North Yarmouth Veterinary Hospital for follow-up testing. Testing revealed that his Bile Acids were elevated, indicating his liver was not functioning as it should and a PSS was likely. Having such severe symptoms at such a young age generally means the shunt is on the bigger side. Some shunts can be fixed, some can't. And some are easier to fix than others.
Many times, the major expense and uncertain prognosis of a suspected severe PSS diagnosed at a young age necessitates humane euthanasia. 💔
With permission from Rocket's breeder, Dr. Barker reached out to the many wonderful "DVM Moms" who are part of the FB Group - "DVMoms - Life in the Trenches". She asked if anyone would be willing to adopt him, knowing he'd have some pretty hefty medical needs. The breeder was open to a DVM Mom adopting Rocket, knowing he needed more than they could provide.
Both Dr. Barker and I are in Maine, and seeing her post, I offered to at help with Rocket's US imaging. This way we could gather as much information as possible, to confirm the PSS and figure out what his treatment options would be.
My house is "at-capacity" for animals right now (occupational hazard!), so I was definitely not in a position to adopt him. But, the one thing I *could* help with was his US.
This kind of US is often called a "Shunt Hunt". It's a bit more complicated to do and yet, I really like them. I've found quite a few, and find it fascinating.
Stay tuned for Part 2... join me on Rocket's CT Adventure. 😊