Tasmanian devil from San Diego Zoo gets rare pacemaker

A Tasmanian devil named Nick was released back into his exhibit at the Conrad Prebys Australian Outback in San Diego earlier this week after he underwent surgery to implant a pacemaker.

It’s the second procedure of its type ever performed on a Tasmanian devil.

In January of this year, during a routine health examination, zoo veterinarians discovered that Nick had an abnormal heart rhythm. An echocardiogram and electrocardiogram (ECG) confirmed the animal had heart disease (cardiac conduction disorder), which was causing his heart to beat very slowly.

Zoo veterinarians consulted with cardiologist Joao Orvalho, DVM —a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, from the University of California, Davis—and determined the best way to improve the quality of Nick’s life was to surgically implant a pacemaker to regulate his heartbeat.

On Wednesday, May 11, Cora Singleton, DVM, San Diego Zoo associate veterinarian, and her staff worked collaboratively with veterinary surgeon Fred Pike, DVM, and his staff from Veterinary Specialty Hospital in San Diego, to place a transdiaphragmatic pacemaker (an impulse-generating device in the abdomen, and electrode sutured to the heart) in Nick.

The procedure was successful, with no complications.

Nick was released the same day, and returned home to the Zoo hospital to recuperate.

Photo credit: Photo Taken on May 31, 2016 by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

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Peg Fong is also in recovery from newspapers

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