Porcupine quilling–associated pneumothorax in dogs: 25 cases (2001–2022)

Julia J. Sevy Department of Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA

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Lauren Gottlieb Department of Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA

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Meghan Vaught Department of Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA

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Elizabeth Rozanski Department of Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To describe the clinical outcome of dogs that developed pneumothorax after an encounter with a porcupine.

ANIMALS

25 client-owned dogs from 2 practices in New England.

PROCEDURES

The medical records were searched for those of dogs that underwent care for porcupine quilling–associated pneumothorax (PQAP) between August 1, 2001, and October 15, 2023. Dogs were all large-breed dogs or large mixed-breed dogs and most frequently had clinical signs associated with pneumothorax, including labored breathing and tachypnea.

RESULTS

No cases occurred in winter months. Diagnostic imaging was useful for identifying pneumothorax, but not for localizing quills. Twenty-one of the 25 dogs underwent median sternotomy for quill removal, with quills found in lung tissue of 19 dogs. Two dogs had no intrathoracic quills identified at thoracotomy, but residual quills were identified in the intercostal muscles. Four dogs were discharged without surgery after apparent resolution of the pneumothorax. All dogs survived to hospital discharge; however, 5 dogs required subsequent quill removal from ongoing quill migration.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Porcupine quillings may result in traumatic pneumothorax associated with quill migration. Following quill removal, monitoring for the development of a pneumothorax is advised. Surgical removal of quills from the lungs has a good prognosis.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To describe the clinical outcome of dogs that developed pneumothorax after an encounter with a porcupine.

ANIMALS

25 client-owned dogs from 2 practices in New England.

PROCEDURES

The medical records were searched for those of dogs that underwent care for porcupine quilling–associated pneumothorax (PQAP) between August 1, 2001, and October 15, 2023. Dogs were all large-breed dogs or large mixed-breed dogs and most frequently had clinical signs associated with pneumothorax, including labored breathing and tachypnea.

RESULTS

No cases occurred in winter months. Diagnostic imaging was useful for identifying pneumothorax, but not for localizing quills. Twenty-one of the 25 dogs underwent median sternotomy for quill removal, with quills found in lung tissue of 19 dogs. Two dogs had no intrathoracic quills identified at thoracotomy, but residual quills were identified in the intercostal muscles. Four dogs were discharged without surgery after apparent resolution of the pneumothorax. All dogs survived to hospital discharge; however, 5 dogs required subsequent quill removal from ongoing quill migration.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Porcupine quillings may result in traumatic pneumothorax associated with quill migration. Following quill removal, monitoring for the development of a pneumothorax is advised. Surgical removal of quills from the lungs has a good prognosis.

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