Objective—To characterize clinical features of tracheal
rupture associated with endotracheal intubation
in cats and to evaluate the most appropriate treatment
for this condition.
Animals—20 cats with a history of endotracheal intubation
that subsequently developed dyspnea or subcutaneous
Procedure—Medical records of cats with a presumptive
diagnosis of tracheal rupture associated with intubation
were reviewed. Clinical and clinicopathologic
data were retrieved.
Results—Cats were evaluated 5 hours to 12 days after
a surgical or medical procedure requiring general anesthesia
with intubation had been performed. Fourteen
(70%) cats were evaluated after dental prophylaxis. All
cats radiographed had pneumomediastinum and subcutaneous
emphysema. Eighteen of 19 cats were initially
treated medically. Duration of medical treatment
for cats that did not have surgery ranged from 12 to 72
hours. Cats that had surgery received medical treatment
3 to 24 hours prior to the surgical procedure.
Medical treatment alone was administered to 15 cats
that had moderate dyspnea, whereas surgical treatment
was chosen for 4 cats that had severe dyspnea
(open-mouth breathing despite treatment with oxygen)
or worsening subcutaneous emphysema.
Eighteen cats had improvement of clinical signs, 1 cat
died after surgery, and 1 cat died before medical or
Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—Most cats
with tracheal rupture associated with intubation can
be treated medically. Cats with worsening clinical
signs (severe dyspnea, suspected pneumothorax, or
worsening subcutaneous emphysema) should have
surgery performed immediately to correct the defect.
(J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;216:1592–1595)