Surgical Conditions of Chest & Respiratory System
The voice box is also known as the larynx. The larynx is composed of three cartilages and one of them known as the arytenoid may become paralyzed in older dogs leading to a smaller gap for respiration. Dog breeds affected are Golden retrievers, labradors and other large and giant breeds. The most common case of laryngeal paralysis is idiopathic (no known cause) although polyneuropathy seems to be the most likely cause in recent findings. Paralysis of larynx causes difficulty in breathing and less oxygenation of body tissue.
How is laryngeal paralysis diagnosed?
You, your family veterinarian, and our veterinary surgeons will use multiple diagnostic tools at our disposal. You may notice a raspy breathing, coughing, difficulty in breathing, exercise intolerance and in serious cases, fainting and collapse due to less oxygen supply. Your primary care veterinarian will do a physical exam and X-rays to begin the diagnosis. We complete the diagnostic process by performing a thorough oral examination under sedation and/or general anesthesia with the use of a drug known as Doxapram to evaluate the grade of laryngeal paralysis. We may further add a swallow test under fluoroscopy and/or a bronchoscopic examination.
How is laryngeal paralysis treated?
A laryngeal tie back is performed to widened the gap between the arytenoids for better airflow. During this surgery, the larynx is approached from the left side of the neck and two sutures are tied from cricoid to the arytenoid to pull the arytenoid to its side.
Aspiration pneumonia can happen in about 10% of the dogs. This can be treated with oxygen supplementation and antibiotics.
Benefits of This Surgery
Post surgery, once the surgical wound is healed, dogs have a better quality of life and can return to being a happy and playful dog.