A human interventional cardiologist and an equine veterinarian in Lexington, Ky. have successfully completed the first step of a landmark procedure to repair a heart problem called a –ventricular septal defect” in a foal. The procedure was performed July 9.Dr. John Gurley, associate professor and director of the University of Kentucky catheterization lab, used a heart catheter (passed through the jugular vein) and a special ultrasound probe to view the 5-month-old chestnut Thoroughbred's heart from the inside.The colt's defect involves a hole in the wall between the lower chambers of the heart in which blood leaks from the left to the right side. The defect causes a loud heart murmur, which was detected when the foal was being evaluated for a fever caused by an unrelated problem.Fairfield Bain is the colt's treating veterinarian at Hagyard-Davidson-McGee veterinary hospital near Lexington. He asked Gurley if he would attempt a procedure to correct the problem at the clinic.Bain said he sees about eight to 10 horses a year with this type of defect. While some have successfully performed with the defects, many eventually show the long-term effects of heart failure.Gurley viewed the hole with the intracardiac ultrasound and it measured about one centimeter in diameter. Gurley and Bain believe installing a closure device to plug the hole would be feasible without interfering with the nearby valves.