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Megaesophagus

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Megaesophagus
  • AS you guys might know..I lost my dear sweet Bubblegum and this is what she had. They also treated her for Myascinia Gravis ( which is not spelled correctly I don' think) but not sure she had it. You see, they said the test is very expensive AND lengthly. Bubby didn't have a fighting chance..she was so sick and going downhill fast, so they treated her for it with medication.

    Now I am frantically searching for information. You see, I don't feel that anyone out there helped much.   The doctors that we went to didn't even catch any of the symptoms..they only talked about the Great Danes weak spine, back and legs. I kept telling them she is sick,,something is wrong.  Eventually the ER vet caught it.... by xrays.    I didn't have the guts or energy while Bubby was still alive.... spent every second taking care of her....but now she is gone..and I need to find out why.   It sure won't bring her back... I wish it would,, I miss her terrible and am still so very upset without her... but I also worry what they missed...what I missed.   Its eating me up...and I need to find more. I need to make sure I don't get caught up in anything like this ever again.

    I wonder if anyone here had or has a dog with this horrible illness.

    Dyan

  • Dyan back in September I feared that Bugsy had megaesophagus.  He kept spitting up several times a day when he would run.  I started to research and was extremely worried.  After two weeks of spitting up I took him to the vet and when he mentioned megaesph I was shaking.  In our case it seemed to be a stomach irritation and after a week of Tagamet he was fine.  Basically the food doesn't get to the stomach, it sits in the esophagus and the dog doesn't get the food as it usually spits up the food.  It isn't vomiting as it never reaches the stomach.   I think DPU chimed in when I was in a a panic. I don't recall much else but I am sure that Dave had dealt with it.

    I do recall that my vet said that he hoped it wasn't that as there is limited successful intervention although there are special feeding instructions that help the dog last longer.  He said that there were tests/xrays we could do if we thought he had it.

    Sorry i don't remember much else.  Reach out for Dave. 

  • Megaesophagus can be breed-related OR it can be idiopathic OR it can be 'caused' by something like an injury.  When Bubblegum got hurt out in your yard, my thot was it pinched a nerve that led to the ME. 

    ME gives rise to all sorts of other things but particularly stuff like pneumonia because bits of food get *in* the lungs and cause infection.  So you have to treat the ME in order TO treat the resulting infections.  I have a feeling that was part of the story with Bubblegum -- by the time the ME was 'discovered' she was already sick with the pneumonia and you couldn't just treat the pneumonia because the ME would perpetuate it (because the lungs are so easily soooo a target).

     It's one of those diseases difficult to wrap your brain around to treat (much like IMHA in many respects) because you can't treat just one thing -- but there are a whole host of things that all are part and parcel of what the disease does and you have to treat *everything* all at the same time.  And any one of the 'problems' that occurs can quickly lead to a disintigrating situation -- you feel like a juggler with half of dozen too many things to juggle when you can't figure out how to even juggle one!

    It's a nasty disease -- can strike older animals or puppies.

  • I have never had a dog with either of these illnesses, but here are some web sites:

    Here are groups on Megaesophagus:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/megaesophagus/

    http://lists.topica.com/lists/megaesophagus/?cid=2924

    Web sites on Myasthenia Gravis:

    http://www.vetinfo.com/dencyclopedia/demysgrav.html

    http://www.southpaws.com/news/Newsletter-Spring%202001/page2.html

    Plug "sophagus" into the search function to find info on megaesophasgus.  That will get most of the different spellings that people use.

    ETA:  It looks like previous posts on megaesophasgus are in the archives, because a search didn't show anything.

  • There actually is a simple blood test that can help diagnose megaesophagus.  Takes about a week to come back.

  • Ginger has megaesophagus. It was diagnosed in October after she had a severe stomach illness. We caught it on xray after we started to reintroduce foods (she'd had to be NPO and on IVs for a few days, as she was vomiting blood) and she began regurgitating anything offered to her, immediately. 

    The first week was tough, as no matter what position we fed her in (using gruel), she started to regurgitate. Thus, she associated eating with that and didn't want to eat.  After about a week, she was finally able to keep a bit down. She lost a lb, which is a lot on a 9ish lb dog. We found an elevated feeder made for small dogs that seems to be just the right height.  We do still have to make sure her food is in gruel form and just the right consistency, or she'll regurgitate.  She's also a food stealer, so we have to keep a very close eye on her. (a few trash raids outside have resulted in some grossness) She gained her weight back and stays at a pretty healthy 8.8 lbs. Aspirating is always a concern in the back of our minds, so we try to make sure she's not able to get ahold of anything that isn't a gruel like food. 

    It's unknown what caused her megaesophagus. I think her esophagus was damaged from the severe vomiting when she was sick.

     The first week, she was so ill we weren't certain if she'd make it, but luckily she came around and is very healthy today. We make sure no one gives her solid food/treats (as everyone wants to give treats to wee fluffy dogs, it seems) to limit her chance of regurgitating and, thus, aspirating.

  • also, to my knowledge (unless it's new) there's not a blood test for megaesophagus. Sometimes a blood test will show signs of an endocrine disorder, but not in all cases.

    There's one for myasthenia gravis though. (but not all ME dogs have MG)

  • Very sorry to hear about Bubblegum ...it's never easy to lose our beloved pets, and when it's for reasons not understood that we wonder and "question" what we could have done differently.  My experience with megaesophagus is limited.  My dog was diagnosed with it secondary to Addison's disease.  She was in crisis and it seemed every part of her body started to fail.... she developed megaesophagus, bloat, microcardia, severe anemia...we just couldn't save her.  The questions and "what ifs" still run through my head ...and this happened almost three years ago.  I miss my Bronte everyday ...she was a wonderful, gentle dog.  She taught me so many beautiful things in her short life ...sadly though, I learned a bit too much about the  effects of some horrible canine diseases.  My heart goes out to you in your search for answers.  It's obvious that Bubblegum will always hold a very special place in your heart.

  • Yes, sorry, I mis-typed that.  I did mean myasenthia gravis. 

  • Yes, the test is for myasenthia gravis.  Its expensive and takes a while for results. Bubblegum was treated for it because she was so sick... and not getting better.  They suspected it because of weakness that she had been experiencing before the megasophugus started to show up.  That is one of its symptoms.   MG often goes into remission...if we only could have gotten Bubby passed the bad stage. But she hadn't eating in 9 days... hadn't walked in more then a week.

    Her megaE was diagnosed by xrays that they took for pneumonia.   She was aspiring her food. Her lungs were compacted. If we could have kept her more of an upright position to get her food in her...she might have had a chance...but she was so weak we couldnt help her much. We tried so hard.  While the food was not getting in her when she finally ate.... neither was the crushed medicine.  She had no fighting chance.

    I had joined the yahoo group on MegaE...trying to learn a lot there.  It is unbelieveable what many people are doing to keep their dogs alive.  Many are on feeding tubes... they sit in high chairs, called Bailey chairs.... to eat and for up to an hour after...to keep their food down. Its an awful ugly illness. 

    And on top of it... there are a few people that feel their dog got this horrible illness after surgery...mainly dentals.   There was mention about the beathing tube being put in the wrong place... in the esophagus rather then in the trachea. Dont know if thats possible..but I know Bubby got a dental end of Sept...and dont really know how that relates to her laying around a little more...looking a little tired or weaker............ but its sure eating me up.

  • Usually you can get a quick diagnosis of myasthenia by giving a short acting acetylcholinesterase inhibitor like tensilon and seeing if it improves the weakness.  The treatment can be expensive and they may require plasmapheresis.  Again, I'm so sorry Dyan about poor bubby :(

  • I'm not sure that is what she was given...as it was so hard to keep up with anything but taking care of her and surviving in that last week...and I threw the meds away when she died.

    Thank you !

  • This is not an experience I want to remember.  I do recall it taking the longest of time in getting an diagnosis.  The vets (went to several) explored Addison, Cushing, but not MG.  MegaE was diagnosised by my vet with xray and then confirmed by Purdue.  It started with Pepperdine gagging up slime.  She could not swallow her saliva, it would build up in the esophogus and then come out.  It was a terrible mess for the longest time.  Pepperdine also sucked cotton her whole life.  She would take a corner of the blanket, suck on it, swallow and then gag it up.  The vets at Purdue seem to dismiss this as part of the illness, but I had my doubts. 

    There is no cure for MegaE so Pepperdine and I settled into routine, a fun time feeding ritual.  She would eat on the stairs and I would pat her sides to help gravity get her food to her stomach.  We fought pneumonia every other month and that caused us to change our feeding routine.  She would get better but the pneumonia episodes would take a little bit of her each time.  Over the course of year, Pepperdine declined in both weight, muscle mass, and energy.  Stupid me decides to go on vacation and leave Pepperdine in the care of my vet.  Half way into my vacation I get a call from my vet's partner telling me she has turned and it doesn't look good.   I rushed home and found they let the pneumonia go too far and she could not be turned.  Pepperdine decided it was her time to go and would not eat or even open her mouth for me.  I remember my bloody hands trying to forced her mouth open so I can get some food in her stomach.  I picked her up on a Friday morning from the vet and she passed on her own very early on Monday. 

    This is a terrible disease and I was just appalled at the lack of knowledge and experience by the veterinary profession.

  • David,,,thank you for going back into that painful memory to help me. I do appreciate it so much and know how painful this memory is for you. I have lost my dear sweet girl..and miss her so very much...but to add to it is the very painful memory of how she passed....and the fact that she didn't do it on her own. It wouldn't have been long...she hadn't urinated from Monday morning..we put her down on Wed. 

    I too am absolutely appalled at lack of knowledge about this illness. The yahoo group that I joined probably has more information than anyone... all of these people are using eachother to keep their dogs alive. So many people are writing that they are working with their vet in trial and error... as their vet has no experience with this illness.   And it makes me very angry that I asked one of my vets how many patients he sees with this God awful illness..and he said a handful a year.  But you know what.....he is the last doctor that saw Bubblegum before she was diagnosed with it.  I took her to him on Friday and he checked her lungs, and took her temperature. She had junk that fell out of her nose so he called it sinus infection.   The very next morning she was ER where they diagnosed pneumonia and Megaesophagus from xrays.   WITH a temperature.  Less than 24 hours before my vet said sinus infection.    Even though this guy said he sees a handful a year... I believe he didnt see any.   The vet I work for only talks about the one that had it when she was in school.  THIS is the scariest part about it..and I am frantically searching for information on what I might have missed.