This 9 week old puppy’s owner brought her in because she was struggling to hold down any food. Xrays were taken after she was given barium, a special liquid that shows up on xray used to outline the digestive system. The xray above shows an enlarged esophagus (the big white ‘sausage’-looking thing) which seems to taper down halfway through the chest, as if someone had placed a rubber band around it (labelled as ‘stricture’). This confirmed a diagnosis of Persistent Right Aortic Arch or PRAA for short.
What is PRAA? In the foetus there are blood vessels that at first may serve a function, but then naturally deteriorate as the embryo develops. Occasionally, vessels in the chest cavity, called the aortic arches, will fail to disappear. The right aortic arch passes near the esophagus. If this blood vessel persists in the newborn, the esophagus is trapped between it and the heart. This inhibits the growth and function of the esophagus, thus restricting food passage to the stomach. So, essentially, the earlier we can fix this the better! This pup went to surgery to remove the stricture which was no small feat as open chest surgery can be very stressful! The surgery was successful and we’re happy to report the pup recovered well and hasn’t looked back!