Assessment of computed tomography derived cricoid cartilage and tracheal dimensions to evaluate degree of cricoid narrowing in brachycephalic dogs

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Rutherford L, Beever L, Bruce M, et al.

Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound 2017;58:634-646.

The aims of this observational, analytical, retrospective study were to (i) obtain computed tomographic (CT) cricoid dimensions (height, width, and transverse-sectional area), (ii) compare the cricoid dimensions between brachycephalic and mesaticephalic breeds, and (iii) compare cricoid cartilage dimensions between dogs without and affected with brachycephalic airway syndrome. The study is important to help to further evaluate and understand the anatomical components of brachycephalic airway syndrome. Measurements were performed in 147 brachycephalic and 59 mesaticephalic dogs. The cricoid cartilage was found to be significantly more oval in Pugs and French Bulldogs compared to mesaticephalic breeds. The cricoid cartilage transverse-sectional area was smallest for the Pug and, after adjusting for weight, significantly smaller for Pugs (P < 0.001), Boston Terriers (P = 0.001), and French Bulldogs (P < 0.001) compared to Jack Russell Terriers. The tracheal transverse-sectional area at C4 of English Bulldogs was significantly smaller than for Jack Russell Terriers (P = 0.005) and Labradors (P < 0.001). The cricoid cartilage transverse-sectional area:weight ratio was significantly lower in brachycephalic breeds compared to mesaticephalic breeds (P < 0.001). The cricoid cartilage:trachea at C4 transverse-sectional area for brachycephalic dogs was significantly larger than for mesaticephalic dogs (<0.001), demonstrating that the trachea was the narrowest part of the airway. No significant differences were found for cricoid dimensions between dogs affected with and without brachycephalic airway syndrome. However, large individual variation was found among the brachycephalic breeds and further studies investigating the relationship between cricoid cartilage size, laryngeal collapse, concurrent tracheal hypoplasia, and/or severity of brachycephalic airway syndrome are warranted.