Liver Shunt Surgery- Constrictor Ring Application & Other Treatments

Liver Shunt - Constrictor Ring Application Procedure

The health and well-being of our furry friends are paramount. Some terms can be challenging to understand, like "liver shunt surgery" and "Constrictor Ring Application." But don't fret! This article will help you understand the complete surgical procedure and other treatment options for liver shunt. 

What Is A Liver Shunt?

The portal vein collects blood from the spleen, pancreas, and gastrointestinal system and takes it to the liver, removing other byproducts. The liver shunt occurs when abnormal functioning occurs in the portal vein, its branches, another vein, and allowing the blood to bypass the liver or shunt. The liver shunt puppy is often caused by a birth defect known as a portosystemic shunt. However, multiple small shunts can be formed due to cirrhosis's severe liver disease.

Formation of Congenital Portosystemic Shunt

The fetus of mammals has a large shunt known as ductus venosus, which carries the blood easily towards the fetal liver and then to the heart. There are two major causes due to congenital portosystemic shunt development in mammals.

  • The ductus venosus fails to collapse at the mammal's birth and remains open and intact even when the fetus does not need it.
  • Due to the blood vessel development, it abnormally does not close with the ductus venosus.

Clinical Signs of a Liver Shunt

  • Stunted growth
  • Poor muscle development
  • Abnormal behaviors
  • Head pressing
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Constipation
  • A high amount of drinking and urinating
  • Vomiting
  • Recurrent kidney stones and infections
  • Bladder infections and stones

Diagnoses of Liver Shunt

The diagnosis is based on the patient's clinical signs and medical history. Below are the common diagnostic tests:

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC) & Serum Chemistries: Typically, the abnormal findings include anemia, low blood urea nitrogen and albumin, high liver enzymes, and smaller red blood cells.
  • Urinalysis: There are chances of urine dilution and infection in the urine. Plus, the urine will have tiny crystals known as ammonium biurate crystals.
  • Bile Acid Test: The liver shunts puppy has raised bile acids. However, the dog will be average, but the test results will be abnormal, and the tests can be repeated for at least 3 to 4 weeks.

Liver shunts dog increase the production of bile acid concentrations in the dog's blood because the liver does not have any chance to remove the chemicals after absorption.

Types of Liver Shunt Surgery for Pets

Our furry friends come in all shapes and sizes, as do the types of liver shunt surgery. Let's take a gander:

  1. Constrictor Ring Application: Picture a ring that slowly tightens around the shunt, like a gentle hug redirecting blood flow. It's done carefully over time, making the transition as smooth as a cat's purr.
  2. Ameroid Constrictor Placement: This nifty gadget does the job independently, gradually constricting the shunt. It's the pet equivalent of an autopilot for fixing the issue.
  3. Surgical Ligation: Sometimes, you must take the bull by the horns. Tying off the shunt sends the blood back where it should be through the liver. It's a bit more direct but just as effective.

When Is Liver Shunt Surgery Necessary for Pets?

So, when does Fido or Whiskers need this surgery? The answer is when the liver shunt is causing significant woes like weakness, stunted growth, or even seizures. It's a problem. You can't just let lie like a sleeping dog.

The vet will do all sorts of tests to see if surgery is needed. And guess what? With the right treatment, most pets bounce back to their playful selves. It's like seeing a sick pup become a bundle of energy again – an accurate tail-wagging tale of recovery!

Constrictor Ring Application in Liver Shunt Surgery for Pets

When our furry friends suffer from a liver shunt, it's more than a hairy situation. The Constrictor Ring Application method might come to the rescue. Let's dive in and unravel this technique, shall we?

How Does a Constrictor Ring Work?

Think of a constrictor ring as a gentle hand guiding things back to where they should be. The liver shunt is like a river flowing the wrong way, and this ring helps steer it back on course.

Here's how it works:

  1. Placement: The ring is placed around the blood vessel that bypasses the liver.
  2. Gradual Tightening: The ring is tightened slightly over time, like slowly closing a garden hose.
  3. Redirecting Flow: By gently constricting the vessel, blood flow is redirected into the liver, where it's supposed to go. Think of it as redirecting traffic back to the main road.

How Is a Constrictor Ring Applied?

So how do we get from point A to point B? It's not as complicated as herding cats:

  1. Assessment: The vet will look at what's happening inside, using ultrasounds.
  2. Surgery: A skilled surgeon will place the ring around the problematic vessel. It's a bit like placing a belt around a wayward hose.
  3. Follow-up: Regular check-ups are crucial. It's a bit like tuning a musical instrument; everything has to be just right!

Risks and Complications of Constrictor Ring Application

No beating around the bush here; surgery can have risks. Here's what to watch out for:

  1. Improper Constriction: It won't work properly if the ring is too tight or loose. It's like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
  2. Infection: Like with any surgery, there's a chance of infection. Regular care and monitoring can nip this in the bud.
  3. Other Complications: Every pet is unique, and other complications might arise. Regular follow-up with the vet ensures that everything's going according to plan.

How Effective Is the Surgical Treatment?

The surgery is effective as it provides healthy and long life to the dogs. After placing the ameroid constrictor, the survival rate of the pet is more than 95 percent. Likewise, the pet will be normal after four to eight weeks of the surgery, but a minor percentage of the dogs have developed the acquired shunts, so the diet should be protein-restricted.

Post-Surgical Management

Feeding the pet with a diet that does not involve protein for at least 6 to 8 days is crucial. After the blood test appears normal, your dog should consume a high-quality diet. Moreover, it is essential to add lactulose to the diet of dogs after some weeks of the surgery. The liver will start growing once the shunt closes and normally functions. Also, the size will be expected after 2 to 4 months. Plus, blood tests are taken repeatedly to monitor the functioning of the liver.

Other Treatments for Liver Shunt In Dogs 

A liver shunt can sure throw a wrench in the works for our pets' health. But don't fret! There are more ways to tackle this issue than you can shake a stick at. Here's the scoop on treatments ranging from meditations to lifestyle changes.


Medications can be vital to the treatment plan, working hand-in-paw with other methods. It's like giving your pet an extra helping hand to feel better. Common medications might include:

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics are often brought into play to ward off infections.
  • Dietary Supplements: Think of these as a little extra spice in the meal, helping everything go smoothly.

Lifestyle Changes

Sometimes, a little tweak here and there can make a world of difference. It's like finding that perfect spot on the couch. Lifestyle changes might include:

  • Special Diet: A tailored diet can work wonders. It's like serving up your pet's favorite dish, but healthier.
  • Regular Monitoring: Keeping an eye on your pet ensures things are on the up and up. Regular check-ups are the name of the game here.

High Risk of Liver Shunt in Dogs Breeds

The dog breeds, including old English sheepdogs, Yorkshire terriers, Irish wolfhounds, beagles, and cairn terriers, have increased chances of portosystemic shunt dogs. This is because the small breed dogs are prone to extrahepatic shunts, resulting in the blood vessels outside the liver. On the contrary, the larger breeds will have intrahepatic shunts, which create abnormal blood vessels on the inner side of the liver. However, extrahepatic shunts are more demanding to repair than intrahepatic shunts.

Liver Shunt Surgery Cost

Now, what will this cost? Liver shunt surgery cost can be a pretty penny, ranging widely based on the procedure, location, and your pet's specific needs. It's like shopping for a new car; the price can vary. But just like that car, it's an investment in something precious.

Insurance, payment plans, or aid from animal care organizations might help ease the burden. It's worth exploring all avenues because, at the end of the day, our pets' health is priceless.

Read more about GDV surgery to give your pet a healthy life.