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Complications of tracheostomy procedures in cats

Christine Guenther-Yenke and Elizabeth Rozanski, Tufts University, Massachusetts

Upper airway obstruction is a lifethreatening event which may result from a range of conditions, including foreign bodies, neoplasia, trauma, laryngospasm or pharyngeal polyps.

Temporary or permanent tracheotomies may be necessary to bypass the obstruction but such procedures have been reported to be more difficult to manage in cats than in other species.

The authors describe the indications, complications and outcome in 23 cases: 13 caused by a laryngeal mass, five by trauma and five by upper airway swelling. Of these, 17 cats were discharged to home, four were euthanased and two died. Major and minor complications were recorded in 10 and 17 cats, respectively.

Despite the risk of complications, temporary tracheostomies can be beneficial where it is possible to treat the underlying cause, while permanent tracheotomies may be an effective palliative measure.

Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 9 (6): 451-457.

Abstract reproduced by kind permission of Veterinary Practice magazine.