Xena's amazing fight against "Megaoesophagus"

Xena is an eight year old Golden Retriever who originally visited us with a history of coughing and vomiting 2 hours after eating. Her owner said she was lethargic and depressed at home and her cough was worse when she was lying down.

After talking with Xena's owner our veterinarian was able to find out that she was regurgitating up her food rather than vomiting. This lead to a suspicion of a weakness of the oesophagus called Megaoesophagus. We confirmed this disease with x-rays. Next we needed to determine the cause of Megaoesophagus to decide if it was treatable.

Often when we see this disease the cause in unknown and the pet cannot be cured but occasionally it is brought on by a curable disease. 99% of the time this disease is likely to be idiopathic - which means the cause is unknown. Often as the animal cannot swallow properly they aspirate food and fluid onto the chest and get serious pneumonias which are often fatal. Knowing this Xena's owners wanted to try everything to see if we could help her long term.

While we were waiting for the test results we had to make sure Xena remained as healthy as possible and reduce the chances of her getting fatal pneumonia. She was on antibiotics for her cough as she had developed mild pneumonia at this stage. She also had to be fed with her food elevated at all times so she did not aspirate food into her chest. This helped with her swallowing as well. She also had to change her diet to a chunky textured food so she could swallow it.

On top of all of this, it was very likely that Xena would suffer with gastric reflux so she also had to take antacid tablets.

After a long 2 weeks Xena's results came back with a positive Ach receptor Anitbody test 8 times normal which confirmed Xena had Myasthenia Gravis localized to her oesophagus. This was great news as this meant we could treat and possibly cure Xena!

Xena was put on very careful home management and monitoring over the next 6months. Over this period of time she improved dramatically. She had more energy, coughed and regurgitated a lot less and became a lot like the old Xena her parents knew.

We retested her blood for the Ach receptor Anitbody and re x-rayed her chest. Her x-rays and blood test were normal so Xena had gone into remission and no longer had Megaoesophagus. We can now stop her medication and just monitor her at home.

Xena was a very special patient and still loves coming into the clinic and she was very lucky to have a curable form of a rather nasty disease! Her mum and dad are very happy that she is back to her old self!

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