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Acute aortic rupture in a dog with spirocercosis following the administration of medetomidine : clinical communication

K.E. Joubert, M.J. McReynolds, F. Strydom
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 76, No 3 | a418 | DOI: | © 2005 K.E. Joubert, M.J. McReynolds, F. Strydom | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 June 2005 | Published: 14 June 2005

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K.E. Joubert,
M.J. McReynolds,
F. Strydom,

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Spirocercosis is an emerging disease in veterinary medicine. A strong suspicion of spirocercosis is usually evident after a thorough clinical examination and radiography of the chest has been performed. Lesions seen on radiography include an oesophageal mass, spondylitis and oesophageal air. Unfortunately, radiography is not diagnostic and additional diagnostic procedures are required to confirm the diagnosis. Endoscopy is commonly performed to diagnose the condition. The dog presented in this study had radiographic and clinical signs consistent with spirocercosis and definitive diagnosis was required. Shortly after sedation with medetomidine, the dog went into cardiac arrest and failed to respond to resuscitative measures. On post mortem, the diagnosis of spirocercosis was confirmed and the cause of death was identified as acute aortic rupture. Aortic aneurysms are not an uncommon finding and cause of acute death in dogs with spirocercosis. The acute rupture of the aorta in this case is most probably the result of cardiovascular changes associated with the administration of medetomidine. Medetomidine causes an acute rise in systemic vascular resistance with hypertension. The increase in shear stress across the weakened aortic wall resulted in rupture. Caution with the use of medetomidine in patients with spirocercosis is advised.


Aneurysm; Aortic Rupture; Dog; Medetomidine; Spirocerca Lupi; Spirocercosis


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