UF to launch open heart program

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB)-- The University of Florida will soon launch an open heart surgery program to teach faculty members how to treat dogs.

The procedure will focus on how to repair the mitral valve in small-breed dogs who suffer from endocardiosis.

UF will collaborate with a Japanese veterinary cardiologist Masami Uechi who has a success rate of more than 90% with the procedure.

"He will teach us how to do the procedure successfully," UF cardiology clinical Associate Professor Simon Swift said. "Other centers of the United States attempted to do this kind of bypass surgery and mitral valve repair surgery but unfortunately their success rates have not been good."

According to UF College of Veterinary Medicine, endocardiosis is responsible for about 75% of all canine cardiac issues. The disease causes a thickening of the heart valves and ultimately, fluid builds up in the lungs causing congestive heart failure.

The UF program represents the first time Dr. Uechi and his team have made a formal agreement to come on a recurring basis to work in the U.S.

Swift says the program will launch in April.