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Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome in Dogs

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  • Istanbul University-Cerrahpasa Veterinary Faculty

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Harran Üniv. Vet. Fak. Derg. 2012; 1(1): 47-53
47
Summary: Brachycephalic airway syndrome results from hereditary development defects of cranium. In this breeds, normal
head width decreases. As the soft tissue mass does not decrease as much as the skeleton size, the pressure of the air passing
through the airway increases, which primarily leads to narrowing of stenotic nares, elongated soft palate, and secondarily to
everted laryngeal saccules and laryngeal collapse. Brachycephalic dog breeds include Shih Tzu, Boxer, English and France
bulldog, Pekinese, Pug, Shar Pei, Lhasa Apso and Boston Terrier. Due to high sound, body activity during breathing and
increasing heat in the environment in Brachycephalic breeds leads to inspiratory difficulty in breathing. As the airway is closed
during swallowing and as it will naturally make breathing more difficult, these animals may not want to swallow. If it is not
treated, it can lead to respiratory and cardiovascular problems such as pulmonary vasoconstriction, pulmonary hypertension,
right ventricle failure and even can lead to life loss as a result of complications like laryngeal collapse.
Key words: Brachycephalic airway syndrome, dog, surgical treatment
Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome in Dogs
11 1
Zihni MUTLU , Alper DEMİRUTKU ,Murat KARABAĞLI
1 Istanbul University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Surgery, Istanbul
Özet: Brahisefalik hava yolu sendromu kafa tası kemiklerindeki kalıtımsal gelişim defektleri sonucu oluşur. Bu ırklarda kafa
genişliği normalken uzunluğu azalmıştır. Kafadaki yumuşak doku kitlesinde, iskelet ölçülerindeki bu azalmayla doğru orantılı
bir azalma oluşmadığı için üst solunum yollarından geçen havanın direncinde bir artma meydana gelir ve sonuçta burun
deliklerinde daralma, yumuşak damak sarkması, primer laringeal keseciklerin eversiyonu ve laringeal kollaps durumları ise
sekunder olarak ortaya çıkar. Brahisefalik köpek ırkları, Shih Tzu, Boxer, English Bulldog, French Bulldog, Pekingese, Pug,
Shar Pei, Lhasa Apso ve Boston Terrier olarak sıralanabilir. Brahisefalik ırklarda soluk alıp verirken oluşan yüksek ses ile
egzersiz ve ortam ısısının yükselmesiyle artış gösteren bir inspiratorik dispne mevcuttur. Köpekler yutkunma esnasında doğal
olarak soluk yollarının kapanması soluk alıp vermeyi daha da güçleştireceğinden hayvanlar yutkunmak istemeyebilirler.
Tedavi edilmez ise, pulmoner vazokonstruksiyon, pulmoner hipertansiyon, sağ kalp yetmezliği gibi respiratorik ve
kardiovasküler rahatsızlıklara yol açabilen, laryngeal kollaps gibi komplikasyonlar sonucu hastanın yaşamını yitirmesine
neden olabilen bir sendromdur.
Anahtar Sözcükler: Brahisefalik hava yolu sendromu, köpek, cerrahi sağaltım
Köpeklerde Brahisefalik Hava Yolu Sendromu
Introduction Brachycephalic dog breeds include, Shih Tzu, Boxer,
Brachycephalic airway syndrome comes into English and France 3bulldog, Pekingese, pug Shar Pei,
being as result of hereditary development defects of Lhasa Apso and Boston Terrier. Brachycephalic airway
cranium. In this breeds, normal head width decreases. As syndrome is characterized with narrowing of stenotic nares
the soft tissue mass does not decrease like the skeleton size, (figure 1), elongated soft palate (figure 2), everted
the pressure of the air passing through the airway increases laryngeal saccules (figure 3) and laryngeal collapse (figure
(Brown and Gregory, 2005). 4). Hypoplastic trachea is common incidence in
Pressure on nasal passage and distortion of Brachycephalic dogs because of the stress in airways
pharynx tissue are among the important reasons for this. (Hedlund, 2007; Monnet, 2003).
Harran Üniversitesi Veteriner Fakültesi Dergisi Cilt 1, Sayı 1, 2012
Derleme
Figure 1: Stenotic nares
Figure 4: Laryngeal Collapse (Monnet, 2003)
Narrowing of stenotic nares and elongated soft
palate are the primary constituents of this syndrome and
everted laryngeal saccules and laryngeal collapse are
secondary components. Excessive negative pressure
resulting from narrowing nostrils and realized under
inspiration leads to stretching and inflammation of soft
Figure 2: Elongated soft palate and the epiglottis overlap tissues and everted laryngeal saccules and laryngeal
(Hedlund, 2007) collapse (Monnet, 2003).
The thickened epithelium outside and the
cartilaginous skeleton covered with mucosa inside forms
the nostrils. In brachycephalic breeds, the cartilaginous
structure is short and thick and was replaced towards the
medial. This case which has a frequent incidence in
brachycephalic dog breeds leads to the secondary
changes in the airways (everted laryngeal saccules,
laryngeal collapse, tracheal collapse) (Monnet, 2003).
Narrowing of nostrils is a case seen at birth. It is revealed
in assessments in most of the dogs between the age of 2
and 4 (Hedlund, 2007).
Soft palate in Brachycephalic dogs reaches
beyond epiglottis and obstructs the airway. Vibrations in
soft palate during breathing can lead to inflammation and
swelling, this in turn obstructs airways more. In such
Figure 3: Everted laryngeal saccules (white arrows) cases, edema in pharynx mucosa and largely protruded
(Hedlund, 2007) tonsils are frequently seen (Monnet, 2003). Elongated
soft palate can also be seen in dogs with no
brachycephalic skull base (Cavalier King Charles
Spaniel) (Hedlund, 2007).
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Harran Üniversitesi Veteriner Fakültesi Dergisi Cilt 1, Sayı 1, 2012
Everted laryngeal saccules are seen in patients inspiratory dyspnea is seen but if it is persisted for a long
with sustained airway obstruction. Due to high negative time, it can lead to gastro-intestinal tension resulting
pressure during inspiration, the mucosa of the laryngeal from aerophagia which comes into being as secondary to
saccules is everted in the larynx. The prolapsed part of the breathing mouth open. Constant fast breathing, increase
mucosa is oedematous and forms a mass which lead to in the distance between front legs, excessive use of
the obstruction of the ventral rirna glottis (Monnet, abdominal muscles, collapse of intercostals cavity and
2003). In dogs which do not have brachycephalic skull thorax entrance orthopneic posture ( stretching head and
base, chronic barking can lead to everted laryngeal craning) and not wanting to lie down and hypothermia
saccules (Hedlund, 2007). caused by interruption of cooling can be listed as other
When the supporting function of larynx clinical symptoms of brachycephalic airways syndrome.
cartilage disappears, laryngeal collapse is formed, which If there is elongated soft palate or laryngeal saccules and
is regarded as an indication of progression of larynx are collapsed, the difficulty in breathing is of both
brachycephalic airway syndrome. With the effect of inspiratory and expiratory character. The severity of the
excessive negative pressure in inspiration cuneiform and inspiratory dyspnea varies depending on the length and
corniculate cartilages are inclined towards the medial. obstruction of soft palate and the existence of other
Laryngeal collapse is a progressive disease whose obstructive conditions. In brachycephalic dogs whose
prognosis gets worse in time. Narrowing of nostrils leads axis of airways did not narrow more than 50%,
to an abnormal pressure which cause elongated soft obstructive breathing habit is characterized with a slow
palate and everted laryngeal saccules, gradual reshaping inspiration phase followed by a rapid expiration phase. In
and eventual collapse of arytenoid cartilage in the larynx non-brachycephalic breeds, breathing is required to be
(Monnet, 2003). modified only after the axis airway is narrowed more
Narrowed or obstructed nostrils affect on the than 50% (Hedlund, 2007; Monnet, 2003).
lung's mechanism and provoke the degeneration of nasal Besides revealing elongated soft palate
mucosa membranes. Severe narrowing and obstruction protruded to rira glottis radiography examination is
in upper airways ways lead to lung edema due to intra- useful in the diagnosis of conditions like hypoplastic
thoracic pressure. Insufficient pulmonary ventilation trachea which can worsen prognosis. In order to make
caused by obstruction in the upper airways results in hypo-plastic trachea diagnosis, the axis of trachea lumen
arterial oxygen amount. Hypoxia is a very strong is divided by the axis of the thoracic entrance. This rate is
vasoconstrictor which cycles the blood from alveoli with 0,106 in English bulldogs in which hypoplastic trachea is
poor ventilation. Pulmonary vazoconstruction and the most common. Besides, thorax radiography reveals
pulmonary hypertension result in hypertension 'cor the existence of lung edema and right ventricle dilatation
pulmonale' and right ventricle failure (Monnet, 2003). and informs us about the need for echocardiographic and
Brachycephalic breeds have inspiratory electrocardiographic examination (Monnet, 2003).
dyspnea which increases with high sound, exercise and In cases with brachycephalic airway syndrome,
increasing heat. Some English bulldog race dogs can pathology and biochemical profile are generally normal.
have vomiting which is not related with food. Again in Rarely blood gas analysis and hypoxia and respiratory
English bulldog race dogs with brachycephalic airway alkaloses can be determined. In cases where oxygen
syndrome, there is an increase in the incidence of hiatus saturation acutely decreases below 80% syncope and
hernia (Monnet, 2003). These animals may not want to collapse symptoms can be seen. If hypoxia is chronic,
swallow as their respiratory ways are naturally polycythemia can develop (Hedlund, 2007).
obstructed during swallowing which will make breathing In order to monitor soft palate, laryngeal
more difficult (Hedlund, 2007). saccules and the functions larynges slight general
When the physical examination of nostrils is anesthesia is required. Normally soft palate is not to be
done for stenosis, breathing habit of the patient is to be too long to outreach the apex of epiglottis. For soft palate
monitored. If brachycephalic dogs have a breathing to be assessed robustly, in examination the tongue is to be
difficulty resulting only from narrowing of nostrils, it can pressed only using fingers without endotraheal tube and
be compensated with breathing mouth open and only the head is to be in normal position. When laryngeal
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Harran Üniversitesi Veteriner Fakültesi Dergisi Cilt 1, Sayı 1, 2012
saccules are everted, they seem to be white, bright dome
shaped structures on cranial of the vocal cords. Laryngeal
collapse is characterized with both corniculate cartilage
being discharged to medial and cuneiform flattening
process of arytenodi cartilage towards medial. Vocal
cords cannot be seen in the case of laryngeal collapse.
Stenosis in nostrils is a case which is frequently
diagnosed in young (younger than 2) brachycephalic
dogs and soft palate is slightly longer than normal.
However, in surgical interventions at this age, prognosis
is rather good. As the patient gets older than 2 years old,
even if surgical intervention, prognosis is to be followed
carefully as other surgical disorders start to develop.
However, surgical intervention is to be done
immediately. As hypo-plastic trachea incidence is very
high in English Bulldog, they may not respond to surgical
intervention. Figure 5: Treatment option for stenotic nares (vertical
In anesthetic protocol which is generally wedge resection) (Monnet, 2003)
preferred, each dog is sedated with glycopyrrolate (0,005
mg/kg IM) and butarphanol (0,25 mg/kg IM). Dogs are In vertical wedge resection, a vertical incision to
preoxyganated prior to induction to maintain adequate the side of the nostril is performed and this incision is
oxygenation during the potential stress of induction. deepened up to caudal alar cartilage a part like wedge is
Dogs are induced with propofol (4-6 mg/kg IV). taken out. When the cavity is closed with 3 or 4 simple
Anesthesia is maintained with isoflurane. Capnometry, stitch with 3-0 or 4-0 absorbable stitch material, there
pulse oxymetry and indirect Doppler blood pressure will be an opening as large as the material taken out is
monitoring are used throughout the procedure. At the achieved and breathing is eased. In horizontal wedge
completion of the surgery, the oropharynx is suctioned to resection, an incision from the side of the nostril which
remove any blood or mucus that could be aspirated goes from medial to lateral is made and deepened up to
during recovery. Dexamethasone sodium phosphate the caudal alar cartilage and the resulting cavity is
(0,25 mg/kg IV) is administred at the end of the stitched in the same way. Lateral wedge resection is a
procedure (Davidson et al, 2001). In fact there are method carried out by the removal of a part from the
differences between the administration time of caudolateral side of the nostril (Hedlund, 2007, Monnet,
dexamethasone in different studies. One of them 2003).
dexamethasone is administred during induction (Riecks, There are different methods in the surgical
2007). treatment of elongated soft palate. For resection a pair of
In the treatment of narrowed nostrils, the scissors, carbon dioxide laser or electro-surgery is used.
resistance in the airways during breathing is tried to be Besides, no matter what technique is used, in case of
reduced by vertical wedge resection (figure 5), horizontal inadequate resection can cause the persistence of
wedge resection, lateral wedge resection (Hedlund, breathing problems and more than adequate soft palate
2007; Monnet, 2003). resection can lead to nasal regurgitation, rinit and
The dorsal lateral and ventral lateral nose sinusitis. The aim of resection is the removal of everted
cartilages make up the canal which is called nostril. The soft palate which covers the apex of epiglottis. In classic
nostrils are supported by nasal septum in the medial and technique (figure 6), the patient is laid on ventral
by dorsal lateral cartilage in the dorsal. Lateral accessory position. The mouth cavity is opened and the part of soft
cartilage provides ventral support to nostrils (Hedlund, palate everted to the epiglottis is determined. It is marked
2007). with sterile pencil or a small incision is made with a
scalpel. The caudodorsal part of tonsils is regarded as
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Harran Üniversitesi Veteriner Fakültesi Dergisi Cilt 1, Sayı 1, 2012
cranial soft palate. Soft palate is raised up to the rostral
with Allis forceps. The stitch placed on the mucosa with
4-0 or 5-0 an absorbable stitch thread to the free side of
soft palate is stretched towards lateral, which allows us to
the excision line completely. After soft palate is excised
along the line, it is stitched with simple continuous
technique. In this technique, bleeding is minimal. There
is no need for postoperative antibiotic use. Steroids can
be used preoperatively to prevent edema (Brown and
Gregory, 2005; Hedlund, 2007; Monnet, 2003).
Figure 7: Trapezoid shape (Findji and Dupre, 2009)
Figure 6: Classic technique for surgical treatment of Figure 8: Ventral mucosa of the soft palate, palatinus
elongated soft palate (Hedlund, 2007) muscle and a part of levator veli palatini muscle are
Another technique used in everted soft palate is excised and removed. (Findji and Dupre, 2009)
'Folded flap palatoplasty' FFP. In this technique, after the
patient is laid in the position mentioned above and
prepared for operation the apex of the soft palate is pulled
towards the rostral with a forceps and the apex of it is
touched to ventral mucosa of the soft palate and the
cranial apex of the incision is marked with a
electrocautery. The aim is to take a part in shape of
trapezoid (figure 7). The base of this part is the hard line
of soft palate, lateral sides are the medial of the tonsils.
Ventral mucosa of the soft palate, palatinus muscle and a
part of levator veli palatini muscle are excised and
removed (figure 8). Later on the apex of the free soft
palate is flattened and stitched on the cranialin of the
trapezoidal cavity simple separate technique with
monofilament absorbable stitch material (figure 9). After
the lateral side of the soft palate is stitched in the same Figure 9: Free soft palate is sutured in trapezoidal cavity
way, the operation is completed (Findji and Dupre, (Findji and Dupre, 2009)
2009).
Treatment of everted laryngeal saccules with
surgical method is difficult as the study filed is limited
with brachycephalic breeds, the prevention of pharynx
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Harran Üniversitesi Veteriner Fakültesi Dergisi Cilt 1, Sayı 1, 2012
tissue and as the tissue worked on can easily become after operation (Findji and Dupre 2009). However, in
edematous due to a small manipulation. Therefore, this method everted soft palate is shortened more than
temporary tracheostomy tube is to be inserted. Everted recommen ded and this can be attrib uted to
laryngeal saccule or saccules are held with forceps and pharyngonasal regurgitation (Monnet, 2003). After
excised and it is pressured with gauze bandage for a while Folded Flap Palatoplasty surgery such a complication
to prevent bleeding. As resection of laryngeal saccules was not seen, which was attributed to the fact that airway
will cause larynx edema, steroids are to be used obstruction due to the edema resulting from the rostral
postoperatively and temporary tarchestomy tube is to be positioning of everted soft palate being flapped on itself
left there for 24 hours after operation (Hedlund, 2007; (Findji and Dupre, 2009).
Monnet, 2003) Compared to traditional techniques, folded flap
If symptoms do not disappear even after everted palatoplasty is harder to apply and lasts longer. In order to
soft palate and narrowing in nostrils are resolved, partial shorten the period of operation in operative treatment of
arytenoidectomy may be necessary to enlarge laryngeal everted soft palate resection, electro- surgery can be used
opening. In some cases of severe tracheal collapse, but it is reported that edema can lead to life threatening
permanent tracheotomy tube may also be necessary airway obstructions (Bright and Wheaton, 1983). Folded
(Monnet, 2003). flap palatoplasty seems to be the most appropriate
Conclusion technique to be used to eradicate the negative effects of
Most of the modifications in the surgical soft palate thickened as a result of chronic inflammation
treatment of brachycephalic airway syndrome are related on breathing (Findji and Dupre, 2009).
with elongated soft palate. Surgical techniques used in In a study carried out in Australia in 2006 on
the treatment of narrowing in stenotic nares and brachycephalic airway syndrome, it was reported there is
laryngeal everted laryngeal saccules have hardly no gender predisposition (Torrez and Hunt, 2006).
changed. However, in another study again Australia, 43 of the 61
Resection of everted soft palate can be dogs examined were males and in a study in Ireland, it
performed using various devices and equipments. These was reported that out of 7 brachycephalic puppies
are conventional incisional technique, carbon dioxide brought to the clinics with laryngeal collapse complaints
laser and electro-surgery. It is known that electro-surgery were males (Findji and Dupre, 2009; Pink et al, 2006). A
can increase swelling (Monnet, 2003). stu d y in America o n 62 dogs reveals that
In study in which carbon dioxide laser and brachycephalic airway syndrome is seen more frequently
conventional incisional technique were compared on 20 in males compared to females (rate 2:1) (Riecks, 2007).
adult brachycephalic, it was reported that postoperative
clinic recovery periods are similar, operation period and References
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Harran Üniversitesi Veteriner Fakültesi Dergisi Cilt 1, Sayı 1, 2012
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Harran Üniversitesi Veteriner Fakültesi Dergisi Cilt 1, Sayı 1, 2012
Corresponding Address:
Dr. Alper Demirutku
Istanbul University, Veterinary Faculty,
Department of Surgery,
34320 Avcilar /Istanbul
e-mail: alperyayin@gmail.com
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
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