A Novel Approach to Brachycephalic Syndrome. 1. Evaluation of Anatomical Intranasal Airway Obstruction

Oechtering GU, Pohl S, Schlueter C, et al.

Vet Surg 2016;45:165-172.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate airway obstruction due to abnormal intranasal anatomy in 3 brachycephalic dog breeds using computed tomography and rhinoscopy. STUDY DESIGN: Prospective clinical study. ANIMALS: A total of 132 brachycephalic dogs (66 Pugs, 55 French Bulldogs, and 11 English Bulldogs) with severe respiratory distress due to brachycephalic syndrome. METHODS: Computed tomography and anterior and posterior rhinoscopy were performed to evaluate endonasal obstruction. RESULTS: All dogs had abnormal conchal growth that obstructed the intranasal airways. Rostral aberrant turbinates (RAT) were common in Pugs (90.9%) but less frequent in French (56.4%) and English (36.4%) Bulldogs. Caudal aberrant turbinates (CAT) obstructing the nasopharyngeal meatus were commonly found in all breeds (66.7%). Deviation of the nasal septum was an almost consistent finding in Pugs (98.5%) but was less common in bulldogs. Obstructing turbinates had multiple points of mucosal contact responsible for obstruction of the intranasal airway. Interconchal and intraconchal mucosal contacts were evident in 91.7% of dogs. CONCLUSION: Selective breeding for short head conformation reduces the size of the nasal cavities to such an extent that intranasal structures grow aberrantly and malformed, leading to obstructed air conducting spaces. Intranasal airway obstruction of brachycephalic dogs may contribute to their exercise and heat intolerance because of impaired pulmonary ventilation and compromised thermoregulatory functions of the canine nose. Failure to address intranasal obstruction might be an explanation for lack of therapeutic success after conventional surgery for brachycephalic syndrome. Future consideration should be given to the diagnosis, management, and treatment of this newly described aspect of airway obstruction.