Respiratory disease is an occasionally overlooked area of veterinary medicine. The goal of this hour is two-fold, the first
is a review of some exciting pulmonary developments over the last few years, while the second is a brief "year in review"
of respiratory papers that have been published in the last since January 2009.
Tracheal stenting has been recently re-introduced as an approach to management of severe tracheal collapse. Severe tracheal collapse is life-threatening
and while extra-thoracic collapse may be amenable to extra-luminal prosthetic rings, intra-thoracic collapse is not. Infiniti
Medical® has been at the forefront of the creation of veterinary application to interventional radiology techniques. Tracheal
stenting is performed as palliative procedure in dogs with end-stage tracheal collapse. Candidates should have been treated
aggressively with medical management, and have signs daily. Family members should be advised that cure is not the end result
but rather amelioration of the life-threatening aspects of severe collapse. Stents come in a variety of sizes, and should
be carefully selected prior to placement to avoid stents that are too large or are too small and could be coughed up. On-going
medical management is required in most (if not all) dogs. However, it a worthwhile approach in severely affected dogs.
Inhaled medication have been introduced as a method to provide local delivery of glucocorticoids (GC)or bronchodilators.
Theoretical advantages include decreased (but still present!) systemic absorption of GC. Challenges include the intrinsic
difficulty getting dogs of cats to use a face mask and to match inspiration with device activation. Dogs and cats require
the use of a spacer, which commonly is the aerokat or aerodawg mask. The GC most widely used is fluticasone (Flovent). Inhaled
CG should be considered in pets that have had a good response to oral steroids, or in those patients that will not tolerate
oral GC. They are not beneficial in pets that have an inadequate response to oral GC, they are instead useful for limiting
side effects. Albuterol has also been used via inhalation, particularly in cats who are more likely to have actual bronchoconstriction.
Recall that beta-2 agonists like albuterol should not be used daily but rather only during bronchoconstrictive episodes.
Sildenafil has phosphodiesterase type V inhibitor had been introduced as a therapy for pulmonary hypertension. In people,
pulmonary hypertension is often primary in origin, while in dogs, pulmonary hypertension is more often due to chronic venous
hypertension, chronic pulmonary disease or pulmonary thromboembolism. However, sildenafil appears to have beneficial effects
in dogs that are clinically affected with pulmonary hypertension of any cause. The dose is 1-3 mg/kg every 8-12 hours, the
medication is usually well-tolerated but may be associated with hypotension. Additionally, particularly in larger dogs it
is an expensive medicine.
Computed tomography is gaining ground as diagnostic tool for evaluating patients with poorly clasified pulmonary disease.
CT is useful for looking at interstitial lesions in particular, as well as those that are difficult to identify from plain
radiography. CT scanning has highlighted a number of lesions that were previously unclassified in companion animals, such
as pulmonary fibrosis, as well as helping to identify metastatic disease in patients prior to a surgical intervention.
Year in review
The following are brief capsules of recent respiratory publications in cats and dogs.
Non-invasive ventilation in cats
In cats with pulmonary failure, mechanical ventilation may be required for adequate support. Mechanical ventilation is most
commonly provided by intubation and intermittent pressure or volume limited ventilation. In people, some more mild forms of
respiratory failure may be supported with non-invasive ventilation with a tight-fitting facemask. This paper describes the
use of a facemask system for providing ventilatory support. While the system was effective, cats required a level of sedation
similar to those cats that were provided with standard intermittent positive pressure ventilation (IPPV). Non-invasive ventilation
may be worthwhile in cats with an altered level of consciousness. ( Brown JE et al, JVECC 2009, 19(5) 416-425.)
Troponin I in cats with respiratory distress
This paper describes the measurement of troponin I in cats with respiratory distress. Troponin is a marker of myocardial ischemia.
It would be very helpful to have a biomarker that is a sensitive and specific predictor of heart failure. Cats with heart
failure had a higher troponin I than cats without heart failure, however, there was enough overlap to make the test not useful
as a stand-alone test to distinguish heart versus "not heart".
(Connolly DJ et al. Assessment of the diagnostic accuracy of circulating cardiac troponin I concentration to distinguish between
cats with cardiac and non-cardiac causes of respiratory distress. J Vet Cardiol 2009, 11(2) 71-78.)
Lysine as an preventative for upper respiratory disease in shelter cats
Upper respiratory infections are a big problem in shelter environments, not only due to the extended medical care, but also
due to the increased number of cats that are subsequently unavailable to be adopted (lost adoption opportunities for the shelters),
Lysine has been shown to be effective in preventing outbreaks in cats with chronic herpes. This study looked at 261 cats in
a shelter , and half received lysine in food, and half did not. Interestingly untreated cats had a lower incidence of respiratory
and ocular problems, leading to the conclusion that supplemental lysine is not effective at this dose. ( Drazenovich TL et
al. Effects of dietary lysine supplementation on upper respiratory and ocular disease and detection of infectious organisms
in cats within an animal shelter. Am J Vet Res 2009, 70(11), 1391-1400. )