Thoracic trauma (Proceedings)

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Thoracic trauma (Proceedings)

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Aug 01, 2011

Traumatic injuries of the respiratory system are fairly common in the dog and cat. Most of these injuries can lead to life threatening complications. It is important that the veterinary clinician be familiar with the clinical signs associated with these injuries and be prepared for aggressive intervention when required. This paper will present some of the common traumatic injuries affecting the respiratory system, clinical signs and treatment for stabilization.

Airway trauma

Traumatic injuries of the airways can occur in both dogs and cats. These injuries may be secondary to blunt or penetrating trauma. Blunt trauma to the trachea or larynx can lead to hemorrhage or edema of the airway. In some cases this trauma can lead to secondary obstruction due to swelling of the airway mucosa and or hemorrhage. The most vulnerable portion of the airway system is the trachea. The cervical trachea is susceptible to crushing injuries, ballistic injuries and other penetrating injuries such as bite wounds.

Clinical signs associated with airway trauma include dyspnea and cyanosis. Subcutaneous emphysema is often present following the injury. The respiratory pattern may vary depending on the level of the disease ie extrathoracic versus intrathoracic. Additional diagnostic evaluation may include radiography, contrast radiography or tracheoscopy.

Emergency treatment of these cases includes oxygen supplementation and restoration of the airway. This may include tracheostomy and continued medical management or surgical repair in the case of tracheal disruption. Stabilization of other concurrent disorders such as shock and pneumothorax must also be a priority.