Thumper: Collapsing Trachea Treated With a Tracheal Stent

What is Collapsing Trachea?

The Trachea, also known as the windpipe, is the tube that connects the lungs to the throat. Problems arise when part of the trachea collapses, making it difficult for the pet to breathe. Tracheal collapse occurs when the C shaped rings that line the trachea become weakened and flatten out.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of Tracheal Collapse include:

  • - "Goose honk" cough
  • - Noisy breathing
  • - Dyspnea (difficulty breathing)
  • - Blue mucous membranes (cyanosis)
  • - Retching
  • - Exercise intolerance
  • - Loss of consciousness

Symptoms can range from mild to severe depending on the extent of the collapse. In severe cases, tracheal collapse can be fatal.

How do we diagnose collapsing trachea?

The simplest and least invasive way we diagnose collapsing trachea is through taking a lateral chest radiograph. However, a collapsing trachea is not always visible on an x-ray, and fluoroscopy, a moving x-ray, can allow us to visualize the trachea as the dog is breathing in and out. The most definitive way to diagnose a collapsing trachea is by endoscopy. An endoscopy involves sending an endoscope, a long tube with a camera on the end, down the trachea. This allows us to visualize the actual walls of the trachea and assess how severe the collapse is. The veterinarian can also take biopsy and culture samples to rule out other potential problems.

How do we treat collapsing trachea?

Medical Management

According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS), medical management is effective for 70% of dogs. Medical management can include weight loss, if weight is a contributing factor, anti-inflammatory medications, cough suppressants, or sedatives to help with anxiety.

For those patients that do not do well with medical management and that are candidates, there is a surgical option.

What is a tracheal stent?

A tracheal stent is

Is my dog a candidate?

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