Procedures for Respiratory Disorders

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    CT image showing a small stone in the nasal cavity of a dog.

  • Photo: Vet Med Featured

    This image shows the stone that was removed by rhinoscopy.

  • Photo: Vet Med Featured

    Rhinoscopy reveals a fungal infection in the nose of a dog (nasal aspergillosis)

  • Rhinoscopy reveals a fungal infection in the nose of a dog (nasal aspergillosis)

    Foxtails removed from the nose of a dog with sneezing


This procedure is used when dogs or cats have a foreign body into the nasal cavity, have discharge from the nose, or have difficulty passing air through the nasal cavity.

Anesthesia is required to perform this procedure, and in virtually all situations, x-rays or CT (computed tomography) is performed immediately before rhinoscopy in order to locate the abnormal region. For the initial portion of the rhinoscopy, a flexible endoscope is passed into the mouth and around the soft palate to look at the back of the nasal cavity. This is a common site for foreign bodies or masses to be located.

Biopsy samples may be collected from this region, and then a rigid scope is used to evaluate both sides of the front of the nasal cavity. Most diseases of the nose require collection of biopsy samples to determine the diagnosis. Pain medication is given before and after the procedure. Because the nose is very vascular, some bleeding is expected during and after a biopsy sample is taken. Animals are hospitalized overnight to provide additional pain medication as needed and to keep them calm to prevent further bleeding.

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    A catheter provides oxygenation in a dog with severe tracheal collapse

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    Nodules in the airways of a cat with asthma/bronchitis


Animals must be fully anesthetized to have this procedure performed, and dogs larger than ~15 pounds have an endotracheal tube placed down the trachea (windpipe) to provide general anesthesia. In small dogs and cats, intravenous anesthetic drugs are used to maintain anesthesia, and oxygen is administered through a catheter placed in the trachea.

After all the airways have been evaluated, fluid is instilled into the airways and then withdrawn to collect a sample of the fluid that lines the airways. This fluid is evaluated for evidence of pneumonia, bronchitis, or cancer. After bronchoscopy, dogs or cats may cough slightly more than previously or the cough may sound different because small amounts of fluid remain in the airways after the lavage procedure.


Laryngoscopy is performed in dogs and cats that have signs of loud breathing, a change in voice, exercise intolerance, or difficulty breathing. Normally, the walls of the larynx should open when your pet breathes in to allow rapid flow of air into the lungs. Laryngoscopy evaluates how well the larynx is working. This procedure is also used to look for masses or foreign bodies in the oral cavity, and to investigate snoring noises in animals. Complete evaluation of the larynx requires anesthesia to assess all regions of the upper airway.