Bailey, a lovely 12 year old Labrador Retriever, was presented as an emergency to Pride Veterinary Hospital with sudden onset respiratory distress, struggling to breathe and pant to stay cool in the warm weather.
Bailey was diagnosed with tracheal collapse, a disease more commonly seen in small breed dogs. His trachea was so inflamed that every time he drew in a deep breath, instead of allowing airflow into the lungs, it became dangerously narrow, causing an upper airway obstruction. This created a vicious cycle where the harder Bailey tried to breathe the more damaged his trachea became.
After an urgent anaesthesia to make this diagnosis, Bailey remained in our ICU with a sedation protocol that was adjusted constantly to allow him to breathe slowly but efficiently. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough, and he was anaesthetized a second time to try an unusual treatment to give him the one last chance to recover. An endotracheal tube was placed through a tracheostomy and positioned with the tip past the narrow section of the trachea using an endoscope to guide it to the optimal position. The tube acted as a temporary stent, allowing the trachea to heal by preventing it from collapsing during every breath.
The effectiveness of the treatment was apparent immediately after recovering Bailey from general anaesthesia. He no longer struggled to breathe thanks to the tube in his windpipe!
Over the next few days in ICU, he began to eat, drink and slowly go out for walks again, becoming brighter and happier. The endotracheal tube was permanently removed after four days and, to our delight, Bailey continued to improve.
He did so well that just a few days later he underwent one last anesthesia to partially close the tracheostomy site before being discharged from our care.
Bailey is a great example of how a multidisciplinary approach (internal medicine, anaesthesia, ICU, surgery, and the nursing team) can have a great impact on the care of our patients. Many people were involved in his care and we are all very pleased that we were able to help him return to his family. He’s even back to rolling around on the grass like the happy Labrador Retriever, he is!
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