Acute respiratory distress syndrome
Acute respiratory distress syndrome (acute lung injury, ARDS) is a relatively common disorder of dogs characterized by sudden-onset respiratory inflammatory response that compromises alveolar-capillary membrane integrity.
Two genetic forms have been recognized; one in neonatal pups and an adult form in the Dalmatian, both of which have differing etiologies and clinical presentations. The adult form in Dalmatians is characterized by interstitial pneumonia.
This condition commonly occurs as a result of pulmonary insults which lead to varying degrees of respiratory compromise and failure that can range along a continuum from dyspnea to acute death.
This disease is frequently seen in association with:
- Aspiration pneumonia, near drowning
- Microbial or fungal pneumonia
- Parasites - Dirofilaria spp, tick paralysis, snake-bite envenomation, Leptospira spp, Babesia spp, Oslerus osleri larval migration, Aelurostrongylus spp, Angiostrongylus cantonensis, Crenosoma spp
- Anaphylaxis (e.g. bee stings)
- DIC - thromboembolism
- Toxins - warfarin anticoagulant, endotoxemia
- Acute cardiac decompensation - caval syndrome, peritoneopericardial diaphragmatic hernia, mitral valve endocardiosis, cardiac myxosarcoma
- Chest trauma (motor vehicle accidents, bite or stab wounds) leading to blunt pulmonary trauma or flail chest syndrome
Clinical signs in neonatal pups is characterized by non-febrile respiratory distress immediately following birth that is often fatal and is thought to be due to poor pulmonary maturity or multiple organ dysfunction.
The adult form of acute respiratory distress has many presenting symptoms depending on cause but the respiratory component of signs is frequently characterized by fever, dyspnea and cyanosis.
Diagnosis is based on presenting clinical signs, thoracic radiographs and exclusion of other causes of respiratory disease. Radiographs may show pericardial effusion, thoracic effusion, air bronchograms and free air within the lung cavity.
Most cases are treated as emergencies and dogs are usually anesthetized and placed on positive-pressure ventilation with 100% oxygen. Specific treatment should focus on addressing underlying disease states.
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