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Laryngeal paralysis in cats: 16 cases (1990–1999)

Sara Schachter DVM1 and Carol R. Norris DVM, DACVIM2
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  • 1 Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (Schachter) and the Department of Medicine and Epidemiology (Norris), School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 2 Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (Schachter) and the Department of Medicine and Epidemiology (Norris), School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.

Abstract

Objective—To determine clinical signs, physical examination findings, radiographic features, and concurrent diseases in cats with laryngeal paralysis, as well as evaluate the outcome of medical or surgical management.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—16 cats.

Procedure—Medical records from January 1990 to April 1999 were examined for cats with laryngeal paralysis. Signalment, clinical signs, physical examination findings, cervical and thoracic radiographic findings, laryngeal examination results, and clinical outcome were reviewed.

Results—No breed or sex predilection was identified in 16 cats with laryngeal paralysis. The most common clinical signs included tachypnea or dyspnea, dysphagia, weight loss, change in vocalization, coughing, and lethargy. Clinical signs were evident for a median of 245 days. Airway obstruction was apparent on cervical and thoracic radiographic views in 9 cats. Examination of the larynx revealed bilateral laryngeal paralysis in 12 cats and unilateral laryngeal paralysis in 4 cats. The 4 cats with unilateral disease were managed with medical treatment, and 3 of these had acceptable long-term outcomes. Seven of 12 cats with bilateral paralysis underwent surgery; procedures performed included left arytenoid tie back, bilateral arytenoid tie back and ventriculocordectomy, and partial left arytenoidectomy. One cat was euthanatized as a result of complications from surgery.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Laryngeal paralysis is an uncommon cause of airway obstruction in cats. Cats with less severe clinical signs (often with unilateral paralysis) may be successfully managed with medical treatment, whereas cats with severe airway obstruction (often with bilateral paralysis) may benefit from surgical intervention.(J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;216:1100–1103)

Abstract

Objective—To determine clinical signs, physical examination findings, radiographic features, and concurrent diseases in cats with laryngeal paralysis, as well as evaluate the outcome of medical or surgical management.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—16 cats.

Procedure—Medical records from January 1990 to April 1999 were examined for cats with laryngeal paralysis. Signalment, clinical signs, physical examination findings, cervical and thoracic radiographic findings, laryngeal examination results, and clinical outcome were reviewed.

Results—No breed or sex predilection was identified in 16 cats with laryngeal paralysis. The most common clinical signs included tachypnea or dyspnea, dysphagia, weight loss, change in vocalization, coughing, and lethargy. Clinical signs were evident for a median of 245 days. Airway obstruction was apparent on cervical and thoracic radiographic views in 9 cats. Examination of the larynx revealed bilateral laryngeal paralysis in 12 cats and unilateral laryngeal paralysis in 4 cats. The 4 cats with unilateral disease were managed with medical treatment, and 3 of these had acceptable long-term outcomes. Seven of 12 cats with bilateral paralysis underwent surgery; procedures performed included left arytenoid tie back, bilateral arytenoid tie back and ventriculocordectomy, and partial left arytenoidectomy. One cat was euthanatized as a result of complications from surgery.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Laryngeal paralysis is an uncommon cause of airway obstruction in cats. Cats with less severe clinical signs (often with unilateral paralysis) may be successfully managed with medical treatment, whereas cats with severe airway obstruction (often with bilateral paralysis) may benefit from surgical intervention.(J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;216:1100–1103)