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Life Saving Surgery for Rescue Kitten

Gilbert is a four-month-old kitten from the Hounslow Animal Welfare Society. From birth, he struggled with feeding, his growth was stunted and he showed signs of periodic respiratory distress. Otherwise, his caretakers described him as a happy and energetic kitten. Gilbert was referred to Hamilton Specialist Referrals for examination.


Physical examinations and CT scans detected signs of pectus excavatum, a congenital condition that includes a dorsoventral narrowing of the rib cage, and an inward curvature of the sternum. These conditions can compress thoracic organs, resulting in respiratory distress. In severe cases, the condition is life-threatening.

During the physical examination, the defect of the caudal portion of the sternum was visible, and the heart was palpable on the left side of the thorax. Gilbert’s CT scans showed clear signs of dorsoventral narrowing of the ribcage. The caudal portion of the sternum curved inward, creating a 75% narrowing at the narrowest point. Due to the severity of his case, it was predicted that Gilbert would not live past his first year of life without surgical intervention.


Dr. Michael Hamilton performed the procedure. The surgery included the use of an external splint. Sutures were used to attach the sternum to the splint, pulling the sternum into the normal ventral position. This increased the size of the thoracic cavity and released the pressure on the organs. Radiographs taken after the surgery revealed an ideal result, showing the sternum in the proper position. Breathing parameters were also greatly improved. The splint remained in place for five weeks.

"We are delighted beyond words that the procedure has worked and Gilbert can look forward to a long and happy life. Not only are we impressed by the skill of the team who operated on him and the kindness of the aftercare team, we are very appreciative of the discount given to our charity".

Carol Atkins - Trustee and Treasurer at Hounslow Animal Welfare Society

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