LARYNGEAL PARALYSIS

WHAT IS LARYNGEAL PARALYSIS?

Laryngeal paralysis is a respiratory condition, in which the patient’s vocal box can be partially or completely obstructed by the collapse of its cartilages. The condition is believed to be secondary to a polyneuropathy (nerve disease) involving the nerve that controls the muscle responsible to open the cartilage of the vocal box during breathing.

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY DOG HAS LARYNGEAL PARALYSIS?

Dogs with laryngeal paralysis show respiratory distress, heavy breathing, a hoarse sounding bark, increased panting, collapse and lethargy. Another common finding is overheating, because patients are no longer able to cool themselves. 

HOW IS LARYNGEAL PARALYSIS DIAGNOSED?

The most accurate test to diagnose laryngeal paralysis is a sedated exam of the throat of the patient. 

HOW IS THE LARYNGEAL PARALYSIS TREATED?

The gold standard treatment for laryngeal paralysis is surgery. The preferred technique is the “Tieback procedure”, which allows the cartilage of the vocal box to be pulled back permanently by a suture. This procedure is performed only on one side of the neck unless fails, to decrease the risk of food entering the wind pipe.

WHAT IS THE AFTERCARE AFTER TIEBACK SURGERY?

To minimize complications after laryngeal tieback, the patient should be fed more frequently, wet diet (meatball size) only and the feedings should occur on elevated station to prevent regurgitations. No neck leads should be warned (harness better), and swimming should be prohibited and weight loss recommended. The most important recommendation is to keep patient quiet and calm and barking should be avoided to prevent failure of the suture.

WHAT ARE THE COMPLICATIONS OF THE LARYNGEAL PARALYSIS SURGERY?

The most concerning complication post-surgery is failure of the repair by breakage of the suture or cartilage, that leads to a recurrence of the clinical signs. Another potential complication that could be fatal is aspiration pneumonia, due to food entering the wind pipe, therefore in the lungs. Patients that had received laryngeal tie back surgery have a change in barking sound, and coughing during eating and drinking. 

WHAT ARE THE EXPECTATION WITH LARYNGEAL PARALYSIS SURGERY?

It is important to understand that laryngeal paralysis is a progressive disease that eventually will affect the life of the patient negatively. The disease starts by affecting one side of the vocal box than progresses to the other side causing  recurrence of clinical signs. The bottom line, surgery will improve the quality of life of the patient with laryngeal paralysis, however a cure cannot be achieved.