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Soft Palate Resection

Metropolitan Veterinary Center in Chicago is offering a breath of fresh air for pets suffering from Brachycephalic Syndrome through soft palate resection and stenotic nares augmentation.
Dogs and cats with short, wide heads such as English bulldogs, French bulldogs, Pugs, Pekingese, Boston terriers and Persians are prone to loud, difficult breathing due to the obstructive breathing nature of the shape of their head.   These breeds are “brachycephalic” breeds and the difficult breathing syndrome due to their short muzzles is known as, “Brachycephalic Syndrome”.  This syndrome refers to the combination of elongated soft palate, stenotic nares, and possibly everted laryngeal saccules,

Elongated soft palate is when the soft palate is too long and the tip protrudes into the airway, blocking normal airflow into the lungs.  Think about constantly being in a state of choking.  That’s that loud breathing sound you hear.

Signs of Elongated Soft Palate:

  • Noisy breathing
  • Retch, gagging and vomiting
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Heat Intolerance / Over heating (this can be deadly)

Obesity will worsen these signs.

Diagnosis:
Definitive diagnosis can only be made with the pet under anesthesia.

Treatment:
Soft palate abnormalities should be treated early as they will become more severe with time, and may even result in life-threatening obstruction.

At Metropolitan Veterinary Center in Chicago, we will perform soft palate resection using our state-of-the-art high-frequency radiosurgery unit or specialty soft palate surgical steel shears.  There has been no study definitively stating the best surgical approach for the treatment of soft palate resection.  Studies have shown the importance of addressing this condition early to limit morbidity and mortality.

After Care:
Pets will have surgery first thing in the morning and will be monitored very closely immediately after surgery.  Post-operative inflammation or bleeding can occur obstructing the airway, making breathing difficult or impossible.  Aspiration pneumonia is another potential concern.  Pets are usually observed in the hospital for at least 12 hours and may need to be referred for overnight monitoring.

Occasionally, and especially in chronic cases, in which the laryngeal cartilages have collapsed, a temporary tube must be placed and maintained through an incision in the neck into the trachea (temporary tracheostomy) until the swelling in the throat subsides enough that the pet can breathe normally.  In rare cases of chronicity, the creation of a permanent opening into the trachea though the neck may be the only solution.

Post-operative coughing and gagging are common.

In young animals, the prognosis is good and the procedure is relatively straight forward. You will see and hear your pet breathing much easier and with significantly reduced distress. Their activity level may markedly improve.  If the elongated soft palate was causing gagging and retching, this will also greatly improve.

Again, it is important the procedure is done early as older animals have a less favorable prognosis, especially if the process of laryngeal collapse has started. If laryngeal collapse is advanced, the prognosis is poor.