OBJECTIVE To determine whether brachycephalic dogs were at greater risk of anesthesia-related complications than nonbrachycephalic dogs and identify other risk factors for such complications.
DESIGN Retrospective cohort study.
ANIMALS 223 client-owned brachycephalic dogs undergoing general anesthesia for routine surgery or diagnostic imaging during 2012 and 223 nonbrachycephalic client-owned dogs matched by surgical procedure and other characteristics.
PROCEDURES Data were obtained from the medical records regarding dog signalment, clinical signs, anesthetic variables, surgery characteristics, and complications noted during or following anesthesia (prior to discharge from the hospital). Risk of complications was compared between brachycephalic and nonbrachycephalic dogs, controlling for other factors.
RESULTS Perianesthetic (intra-anesthetic and postanesthetic) complications were recorded for 49.1% (n = 219) of all 446 dogs (49.8% [111/223] of brachycephalic and 48.4% [108/223] of nonbrachycephalic dogs), and postanesthetic complications were recorded for 8.7% (39/446; 13.9% [31/223] of brachycephalic and 3.6% [8/223] of nonbrachycephalic dogs). Factors associated with a higher perianesthetic complication rate included brachycephalic status and longer (vs shorter) duration of anesthesia; the risk of perianesthetic complications decreased with increasing body weight and with orthopedic or radiologic procedures (vs soft tissue procedures). Factors associated with a higher postanesthetic complication rate included brachycephalic status, increasing American Society of Anesthesiologists status, use of ketamine plus a benzodiazepine (vs propofol with or without lidocaine) for anesthetic induction, and invasive (vs noninvasive) procedures.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Controlling for other factors, brachycephalic dogs undergoing routine surgery or imaging were at higher risk of peri- and postanesthetic complications than nonbrachycephalic dogs. Careful monitoring is recommended for brachycephalic dogs in the perianesthetic period.