Laser Surgery in Treatment of Brachycephalic Respiratory Syndrome

Laser Surgery in Treatment of Brachycephalic Respiratory Syndrome
By Dr. Ed Mapes
Stonebridge Animal Hospital
McKinney, TX

Imagine spending your life with a condition that forces you to struggle for every breath you take. This is what Brachycephalic Respiratory Syndrome does to the dogs and cats afflicted with this condition. Restrictions at various points in the upper airways cause the snorting, labored breathing, and gagging that these breeds are famous for; but the constant effort to breathe causes a number of other medical problems as well:

  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing food
  • Increased incidence of oral and dental disease
  • Increased incidence of ocular disorders
  • Weepy eyes and nostrils causing skin infections about the face
  • Difficulty sleeping and exercising

Vet McKinney TX

Fig 1: These nares (nostrils) are virtually entirely closed off and allow very little air to pass.

There are multiple abnormalities that affect breathing in these pets:

  • Stenotic nares: severely narrowed nostrils that prevent air movement.
  • Elongated soft palate: the soft palate extends too far into the back of the throat, becomes swollen, and obstructs the airway and causes pronounced gurgling sounds.
  • Eversion of the laryngeal saccules: These tissues are small out-pouchings located in the larynx (voice box). With the increase in respiratory effort, due to stenotic nares and elongated soft palate, these out-pouchings get sucked into the airway, further restricting air-flow.
  • Tracheal Collapse: end stage of the disorder in which the trachea collapses inward and causes extreme airway obstruction.

Vet McKinney TX

Fig 2: The soft palate in this patient extends deeply into the throat and dramatically disrupts breathing.

Surgical correction of these malformations is usually the definitive answer to help these animals breathe normally.  Vets in McKinney, TX usually correct the stenotic nares and overlong soft palate initially and observe the effects of these procedures. Many patients improve dramatically after these corrections, and in some cases everted laryngeal saccules become less swollen and obstructive to respiratory effort after these procedures.

Laser surgical techniques have revolutionized these two surgeries. Before the laser, Vets in Mckinney, TX did the surgeries with scalpel and sutures, but the procedures were very bloody, difficult, and seemed to take forever. Surgical laser beams slice and cauterize the tissue very precisely and without bleeding. The procedures are now much faster, the patient is out of surgery and awake very quickly, and vets in McKinney no longer worry about hemorrhage. Healing is very rapid and the patients recover much more quickly.

Any brachycephalic breed of dog or cat with breathing difficulty should be assessed for Respiratory Syndrome. There’s really no logical reason to avoid surgical corrections that are the best way to help these pets breathe normally. The alternative is to allow them to struggle for air throughout life while the condition gradually worsens to the point of tracheal collapse – at which time these procedures will not help, and a permanent tracheostomy is the only way to help them breathe.

Vet McKinney TX
Stonebridge Animal Hospital
5913 Virginia Parkway
McKinney, Texas 75071

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