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Bella’s breathing difficulties

 Bella is a gorgeous Chinchilla cross cat that came to see us one evening as she had been having some trouble breathing.  She was examined and it was found she was needing to use extra effort for her to breathe.  Bella was taken to radiology to have radiographs of her chest taken right away to help find out what the problem was.Bella’s chest radiographs showed that she had a pleural effusion.  This is a build up of fluid around the lungs within the chest cavity.In surgery fluid was drained from Bella’s chest which helped her breathing a great deal.  Bella was also kept in an oxygen cage to help with her breathing while the fluid was tested to help find out why the fluid built up.  The next day when Bella was feeling a little better she had a second surgery to insert temporary chest tubes.These tubes helped us to drain any further fluid from her chest cavity without Bella having to have any more sedation or anaesthetics.

The fluid from Bella’s chest was sent to a laboratory in Melbourne for analysis.  The results for Bella’s fluid showed no signs of infection and the fluid was clear with a small amount of blood and a moderate amount of protein.  At this stage the possible problems that Bella may have been having could be some types of neoplasia (cancers) in the chest, a torsed lung lobe (this is part of the lung that has twisted around its’ base), a hernia of the diaphragm (a defect or hole in the muscle that separates the chest and abdominal cavities) or a viral disease that can cause a pleural effusion.

In order to have further specialised tests done, Bella was taken to Melbourne to a specialist centre to further investigate her problem.  Bella stayed with Moe Vet Centre for a number of days before her appointment where she was nursed and her chest tubes were drained and checked multiple times each day.

At the specialist centre a very small camera was sent into Bella’s chest to investigate what was happening.  It was a surprise for everyone as Bella had two problems at once.  One of Bella’s lung lobes was torsed and she also had a diaphragmatic hernia.  Diaphragmatic hernias most commonly occur in road traffic accidents.  Bella is an inside cat so after some digging into her history it is thought she sustained this injury when she fell off the fridge four years ago!  This was good news, however, both of these problems require major chest surgery to correct.

Bella was taken straight to surgery.  Her entire chest cavity was opened and the offending lung lobe was removed and her hernia repaired.  Repairing hernias that have been present for an elongated time (in this case four years) have a higher risk of complications after surgery, so for the next 48 hours we were all hoping that Bella would do very well while she spent time receiving intensive care.

After all her care at Moe Vet Centre, Melbourne Veterinary Specialist Centre and of course many visit, pats and brushes from her owner Helen, Bella recovered well and was able to return home.

Nurse Laura preparing Bella for surgery.
Bella recovered after her chest tubes were placed.

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