Following several mitral valve repair surgeries for members of the Mighty Hearts MVD Community, we were able to have a few questions and answers from Dr. Dan Brockman, the head surgeon at Royal Veterinary College, to help inform our community about the services provided in the UK for not only those living in the UK and EU, but globally.
Q: Do you have an updated statistic for successful MVR? Previously, in May you had quoted 60% success. [UPDATE: As of May 2018, overall success rates are now at 85%,]
A: We have not lost a dog during surgery since July 2017 and this includes five (5) mitral valve dogs. Sadly, as you may have read, Louis passed away about 2 months after surgery because of resistant bacterial endocarditis.
Q: How many dogs have you operated on for this specific procedure?
A: Between 1995 and 2000 I operated on four (4) dogs (at Penn). Since August 2012, I have been involved in 17 mitral repairs - 7 with Dr. Masami Uechi and 10 with the RVC team alone. Our survival rate for Stage C dogs is 83% but we are still talking about small numbers compared with the Japanese team. My total experience of open heart surgery for all procedures is just over 60 patients and we have published on tricuspid valve dysplasia and pulmonic stenosis surgeries.
Q: How often do you do mitral repair surgery at RVC?
A: We do open heart surgery twice per month and we do a variety of procedures, although mitral valve disease is the most common currently. I anticipate increasing this to one case per week, if demand increases. We have successfully operated dogs with congenital mitral and tricuspid valve disease, septal defects, intracardiac tumours, and pulmonic stenosis as well as degenerative mitral valve conditions. [UPDATE: As of March 2018, Mitral Valve Repair surgery is performed at RVC on Mondays every other week]
Q: How far out are you currently scheduling patients?
A: We are currently booked until January 2018 but have availability from late January to early February. [UPDATE: As of May 2018, availability is projected for January 2019 and on, with the exception of cancellations]
Q: Is the term of stay in London the same as in France (arrive 1-2 days before surgery, pre-op appointment the day before, 7 days hospitalization, 5-7 days in country post-hospitalization)- Approximately 2 weeks?
A: Yes, it is the same.
Q: Many US owners are hesitant to bring dogs to the UK because of the perceived difficulty with strict import requirements. How pet friendly is entering the UK and within the UK? [Please see the, Travel to London page for the latest up to date information]
A: I think, with the exception of strict British airline regulations**, the travel documentation and requirements are similar to that of the rest of the European Union (EU) - including France. We have several pet friendly hotels near our hospital with several pet friendly taxi services from all major airports.
**It is important to note that anyone flying into the UK from the US, and all other countries including those in the EU, must place their pet in cargo. An ESA letter from the US is only sufficient for flight in cabin via United States owned and operated airlines. For more information on UK pet import process, please see: https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad
Q: How much does the surgery cost? What does it include?
A: The pre-operative consultation, surgery, and one (1) week hospitalization is included in the price of £10,000. [UPDATE: As of Feb 2018 the cost for surgery at RVC is £12,000]
Q: How should potential patients get in contact with you?
A: Our email address for QMHA Heart Surgery is firstname.lastname@example.org All the RVC team has access to this address.
Click here for more information on the Cardiothoracic Surgery department at the Royal Veterinary College.