Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Patient Spotlight: Grizz Lee

     Grizz Lee  is a 13 year old lab with a condition called laryngeal paralysis.  Laryngeal paralysis is something that is fairly common in older, larger breed dogs.   The larynx is surrounded by separate plates of cartilage that form a box-like shape in the throat.  The stability of the larynx is maintained by laryngeal muscles.  When the nerves of the muscles weaken, the muscles will relax and collapse inward.

     When Grizz Lee breathes in, the larynx does not properly open making it slightly more difficult to breathe.  This condition becomes aggravated when he is excited or stressed.  The more excited/stressed he gets, the more he pants, and the more difficult it becomes for him to breathe.  In rare cases pets with laryngeal paralysis can become so stressed/excited that they will be completely unable to breathe and go into respiratory distress.  This situation in fact happened to Grizz Lee early one morning and his owner had to rush him to CARE where he could be anesthetized and intubated in order for him to breathe.

    Grizz Lee has since recovered from his respiratory crisis and received surgery to correct the laryngeal paralysis called a Laryngeal Tie-Back.  Surgery for this condition involves tying the collapsed cartilage to the side of the larynx to prevent it from obstructing breathing in the future.  Although the surgery often dramatically improves quality of life, as it has for Grizz, it has a few small risks.  Now that the larynx is permanently tied back, the owner must be careful to feed their pet properly so that they do not get food and/or water into their trachea and into the lungs.  This can be done easily with a few minor, but important feeding adjustments.

     Since his surgery Grizz has gone on to be a happy, normal lab.  Although he's not as spry as he used to be, he has a wonderful quality of life and is otherwise healthy.  Not all animals with laryngeal paralysis will require surgery; it is done as a case by case basis and should be fully discussed with your veterinarian.If you have more questions about Grizz Lee's condition we'd be happy to answer them  for you!