A 24-yr-old, male western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) was diagnosed with congestive heart failure using transesophageal and transthoracic echocardiology. New York Heart Association (NYHA) Class III was assigned to the severity of the condition. Over 16 mo, this progressed to NYHA Class IV despite increasing medical therapy. Repeated evaluations suggested that implantation of a cardiac resynchronization therapy device with a defibrillator (CRT-D) could benefit this animal based on clinical signs and underlying evidence of dyssynchrony and suspected fibrotic myocardial disease. Surgical implantation of leads into the right atrium, right ventricle, and left ventricle was accomplished. The CRT-D device was placed under the thoracic pectoral muscles during an initial surgical procedure. Improvement in the gorilla's clinical condition after implantation of the CRT-D device was immediate and dramatic. Subsequent scanning of the device was accomplished through operant conditioning. The data from these device interrogations included stored and real-time cardiac data, which were used to minimize recognized environmental stressors and change device settings. Over 4 yr, case management was critical to successful device use in treatment of the clinical disease. This involved medications, training for device interrogation, exercise to increase activity and improve body condition, and phlebotomy attempts. Dietary management was necessary to manipulate caloric and sodium intake and encourage medication compliance. Cardiac resynchronization therapy device implantation, although requiring specialized equipment and surgical skill, appears to be a viable option for treatment of fibrosing cardiomyopathy with systolic dysfunction in gorillas refractory to medical management. In addition to treatment, this device provides cardiovascular data at rest that could allow for early diagnosis and treatment of gorillas with this and other cardiac conditions in the future. This describes the comprehensive medical, husbandry, and training techniques necessary to successfully manage this intense clinical case in conjunction with intracardiac device therapy.
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