Tracheal collapse is a degenerative respiratory disease characterized by weakening of the tracheal ring cartilages or tracheal hypoplasia resulting in flattening and flaccidity of the trachea.
Dogs with brachycephalic syndrome such as the Pug and Pekingese are predisposed to this disease, as well as other airways diseases such as stenotic nares, elongated soft palate, everted laryngeal saccules and bronchomalacia.
In affected dogs, the tracheal cartilage usually collapses in a dorsoventral direction with the cervical trachea collapsing during inspiration and the thoracic trachea collapsing during expiration.
Clinically affected dogs typically present with a chronic, paroxysmal honking cough, reduced tidal breathing flow-volume, varying degrees of dyspnea, cyanosis, syncope and a predisposition to developing aspiration pneumonia.
Radiography and ultrasonography are traditionally used to diagnose this condition, but fluoroscopic and tracheoscopy are considered to be the most sensitive methods for diagnosing tracheal collapse.
Radiographs usually show varying degrees of flattening of the trachea, bronchial collapse, bronchomalacia and pneumonitis. Dogs with bronchomalacia are significantly more likely to display normal airway cytology and to have mitral valve endocardiosis and cardiomegaly than dogs without airway collapse.
Treatment is usually palliative in most cases with drugs such as prednisolone or stanozolol, however, the response to treatment with antitussives, antibiotics, bronchodilators, corticosteroids, sedatives, and oxygen, as well as other forms of medical management, including weight reduction, exercise restriction, and a non-smoking environment, usually is limited.
In the terminal stages of this disease, when dyspnea becomes the dominating sign and is no longer manageable with medical treatment, a surgical procedure is necessary.
A number of methods are available such as intratracheal stents inserted via bronchoscopy are popular but have been associated with several complications, including stent migration and shortening as well as granuloma formation.
The prognosis in mildly affected dogs is good without surgical intervention, but guarded in dogs that have severe respiratory dyspnea require surgical maangement.
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