Advanced Technology and a Dog Named Maddie

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – As veterinary medicine gets more and more advanced, veterinarians are increasingly treating pets with sophisticated technology that was originally developed for use in human hospitals.

That technology, and the knowledge of how to use it, recently helped save a lovable Yorkshire terrier named Maddie.

Maddie, who is 7, began breathing heavily and could not get to sleep at all one night while her owners, the Cassel family, were on vacation in Northern Michigan.  The family drove the next day to the BluePearl Pet Hospital in Southfield, Mich., cutting their trip short by a day. Maddie had been a heavy breather for years, but this time she was clearly in trouble.

To diagnose and treat Maddie, veterinarians used four different types of medical imaging technology. And Maddie is now breathing better than she has in years.

“To us as a family, it’s like a miracle,” said Maddie’s owner Prudy Cassel, of Flat Rock.

Here is a step-by-step look at how veterinarians used the different types of technology to help Maddie after she came in to BluePearl in mid-July:

Maddie’s treatment was a team effort, performed by veterinarians with advanced training in emergency, critical care, radiology, and internal medicine.

…but Maddie had a collapsed trachea, which severely inhibited her ability to breathe.

Air normally should pass freely through the trachea on its way to the lungs…

“It’s like a person going in to the hospital,” Cassel. “To know that they can give this kind of care to an animal and be just as successful as on a human being, I think that’s amazing.”

Cassel, who works in billing for a medical practice, said she had no idea that veterinarians have such a wide range of expertise. “Veterinarians have specialties too. Did I know that? No, I didn’t.”

Maddie’s collapsed trachea was a congenital defect, and it explained why she was in such severe respiratory distress. “This pneumonia sent her into a crisis, and it probably wouldn’t have without this congenital defect,” Romine said.

After Romine placed the stents, Maddie was still recovering from pneumonia, but her loud, honking cough had gone away. Even under light anesthesia, Maddie had been coughing in the fluoroscopy procedure, but as soon as the stents were placed she began breathing deeply and quietly.

“She was immediately doing better and we were able to discharge her the next day,’ Romine said. At her first recheck a week later, Maddie’s pneumonia had almost completely resolved. Because she is a young dog, she will need to be monitored over time to ensure the stent remains in the right location, but with medical management, the BluePearl doctors have high expectations for Maddie long-term.

In fact, Cassel says the family had gotten so used to Maddie’s loud breathing, that it took a while to get used to her not doing it. Sometimes she still thinks where’s Maddie? And  Maddie is right next to her.

Dr. Romine placed stents, which keep Maddie’s trachea open and have dramatically improved her breathing.