MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) – The Veterinary Health Center at Kansas State University has conducted its first-ever surgical implant of a heart pacemaker in a ferret. K-State says a team of veterinary specialists at the center recently performed the procedure on the ferret named Zelda, from Olathe.
Carl Hobi, who owns three ferrets, noticed in December 2016 that Zelda’s appetite was off and that she was laying down more than usual. Hobi took her to an area animal hospital, where an EKG showed she had a very low heartbeat. The veterinarian examining Zelda recommended she be seen by a cardiologist at Kansas State University’s Veterinary Health Center.
While Hobi was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania spending time with family, he took Zelda to an animal health center where they ran tests on her. The veterinarian running the tests happened to have been a resident in anesthesiology and analgesia at Kansas State University.
“After other tests, they said she had a third-degree atrioventricular block in her heart, which was responsible for the slow heart rate,” Hobi said. “Dr. Norkus told me to take her to K-State for pacemaker implantation.”
Once back in Kansas, Zelda was admitted to the Veterinary Health Center, where she was examined by James Carpenter, professor of clinical medicine; David Eshar, assistant professor of clinical medicine; and Louden Wright, an intern, all veterinarians who specialize in wildlife and exotic animals. Zelda also was examined by Justin Thomason, a veterinary cardiologist.
Emily Klocke, who was part of the implantation team says this was the first time she had ever performed this particular procedure on a ferret.
“I was very concerned about how small our patient was and whether I could successfully suture the pacemaker leads to her beating heart without causing severe bleeding. Our anesthesia service, led by Dr. David Rankin, was very instrumental in the success of this procedure.”
K-State says while pacemaker implantation has been performed on other animal species, it is much rarer in ferrets.(Information provided by K-State News and Communications Services)