The trachea connects the larynx to the lungs and is the wind pipe supplying oxygen to the lungs. In small breed dogs like Yorkshire terriers, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Toy Poodles, tracheal collapse can happen. Tracheal rings may have less chondroitin resulting in weakening and collapse. Tracheal collapse are classified in 4 grades. Grade four is a completely collapsed trachea either in the neck or in the chest.
How is tracheal collapse diagnosed?
You, your family veterinarian and our veterinary surgeons Will use multiple tools at our disposal for diagnosis. You may notice a goose honking 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 to evaluate the grade of laryngeal paralysis. We may further add a bronchoscopic examination of the trachea to assess the length of collapsed segments. Our veterinary surgeons and their team will also recommend that a CT scan of the neck to be performed for surgical planning and tracheal stenting procedure.
How is tracheal collapse treated?
Stenting of trachea is the treatment of choice at Pet Specialists of Austin. A tracheal stent is carefully placed into the trachea resulting in a permanent resolution of the collapse and reconstitution of the tracheal lumen. The stent is made of a Nitinol wire and is implanted into the tracheal lumen through the oral cavity under general anesthesia.
Although a large lumen is restored after the surgery, intermittent coughing will still be seen in these dogs. Fracture of the stent can also happen. Infection and granuloma formation have been also noticed.