Turtle Mountain Veterinary Service

1040 Highway 5 NE
Bottineau, ND 58318

(701)228-3075

turtlemountainvet.com

This is the story of Chopper.  Chopper is a neutered male mixed breed dog owned by Darlene Olson of Lake Metigoshe. 

Chopper came to visit Dr. Jill and the staff at Turtle Mountain Veterinary Service at the beginning of August in 2010.  The only symptoms Chopper was displaying was not eating or drinking.  His physical exam turned out to be fairly normal except Dr. Jill could not hear any breath sounds over his right chest and he had mild dehydration.  Dr. Jill decided to take some x-rays to see what was going on in Chopper's chest.  She found that Chopper had a pleural effusion or fluid in the chest cavity.  Dr. Jill discussed this problem with Chopper's mom.  Pleural effusion is a serious condition and can be difficult to diagnose the cause and difficult to treat. Chopper would get the best care at a referral center that would be able to monitor him 24/7.  We needed to do some blood work and tap his chest first for more information and his owner agreed to that.  Once the blood work was done, Dr. Jill needed to tap Chopper's chest. This involves inserting a needle into both sides of his chest and removing the fluid from the chest cavity.  Chopper was sedated to have the chest tap performed.  We obtained 2 ½ cups of blood from Chopper's chest and we decided to stop at this point and reverse the sedative.  Dr. Jill discussed what was going on with Chopper's mom.  There was a hemorrhage into his chest and the source was unknown and it would be best to take Chopper to the University of Minnesota in St. Paul for further diagnostics and treatment.  Chopper's owner agreed, so Dr. Jill called the U of M to set up an appointment for the next day.  Chopper did fine through the night until his owner came to pick him up the next morning to head to the U of M. 

Once at the U of M, Chopper had further bloodwork and x-rays, plus a CT scan.  The doctors at the U of M determined that Chopper had a lung lobe torsion.  This is a condition in which a part of the lung twists on itself and cuts off the blood supply.  This was the source of the hemorrhage into Chopper's chest.  This is a very serious condition and happens spontaneously for reasons we do not understand.  Chopper's mom agreed to surgery to remove the twisted lung despite the risk and expense involved.  Chopper's surgery went well and he recovered without major complication.  He was released from the U of M 6 days later.

When Chopper came to us for his check-up two days later his chest incision was looking good but he had decreased breath sounds. Dr. Jill decided to sedate him and do another chest tap.  Fluid was removed from his chest.  The fluid was likely the result of on-going inflammation in the chest due to the recent surgery. 

Chopper came in for another check-up three days later because he was not breathing very well the night before.  Once again on his physical exam, Dr. Jill could not hear any breath sounds on his right side.  Dr. Jill sedated Chopper and removed yet more fluid from his chest, but this time she also removed air from his chest.  Dr. Jill was concerned about the pneumothorax (air on Chopper's chest) and called the U of M to talk to one of the vets. The Dr. at the U of M told Dr. Jill to take some x-rays and that Chopper may need a second surgery if this continues.  The x-rays confirmed the pneumothorax but did not show an explanation for the air.  Dr. Jill suspected that air was leaking from the surgical site where the portion of the lung had been removed. Dr. Jill then called the Dr. from the U of M and told him that the x-rays did confirm the pneumothorax but that everything else looked normal.  The doctor from the U of M told Dr. Jill to keep an eye on the pneumothorax and if it wasn't getting any better to return Chopper to the U of M.

The next morning Dr. Jill sedated Chopper again to tap his chest, she removed lots of air and a little bit of fluid from his chest. We kept Chopper over night again to tap his chest the next day; once again Dr. Jill sedated him and removed a lot of air from his chest.  Dr. Jill called the doctor at the U of M and he recommended that Chopper return to the U of M for an evaluation. Dr. Jill contacted Chopper's mom.  She came to get him that night to take him back to St. Paul.  The doctors at the U of M evaluated Chopper and recommended a second surgery to identify the source of the air leak. Chopper's mom ultimately decided to bring him home and hope for the best.  We continued to do chest taps here at TMVS.  When he came back to us after the weekend Dr. Jill took some more x-rays and they showed that things had improved.  We decided to continue to monitor and do chest taps as needed.

Chopper came back in for his check-up 4 days later and he was feeling great.  The x-rays showed that things were looking even better, so Dr. Jill recommended that he just go home and has a week of rest before he goes for anymore walks.

12 days later Chopper comes back to see Dr. Jill because he doesn't have much of an appetite and is lethargic.  On his physical exam, Dr. Jill notices that his breath sounds are difficult to hear on both sides of his chest. Dr. Jill took some x-rays and they showed that the pleural effusion had come back so she sedated Chopper again and tapped his chest. She removed a lot of fluid from his chest.  Chopper was then sent home to get some rest and see how he feels in the morning.  The next morning Chopper was feeling better, he had an appetite and was more playful.  Dr. Jill put him on a steroid because of the ongoing inflammation in his chest.

Four days later Chopper comes back into the clinic because he wasn't feeling good again.  Dr. Jill took x-rays to see how Choppers chest was looking and they showed that his pleural effusion had improved very much.  Dr. Jill recommended rest and time and continued steroids.

We called to check on Chopper 12 days later and he was doing great - running around and acting like his old self.  Chopper is currently doing fine and living a full life with his family.  Throughout all of Chopper's medical ordeal, he always came into the clinic with his tail wagging and happy to see everyone.  He is definitely one tough dog with a heart of gold.  Chopper is definitely one lucky dog to have a mom who was willing to go the distance to get him the care he needed.  We will always hold a special place in our hearts for Chopper and Darlene.