What is Hemorrhage of the Lung?
Trauma to the chest or thoracic area may cause only mild bruising or more serious hemorrhage of the lungs. If your cat has an accident that includes this type of trauma, it is important to see your veterinarian as symptoms could worsen up to 48 hours after the traumatic event. Hemorrhaging in the lungs is very serious and can be a life-threatening condition if left untreated.
Cats can suffer from a variety of conditions that can affect the health and performance of their lungs. While some of these conditions are minor, others can cause serious problems such as hemorrhaging,or excessive bleeding, in the lungs.
Hemorrhaging in the lungs is often the result of a pulmonary contusion, or injury to the lungs, but may be related to disease or other conditions. The condition can be dangerous because it restricts your cat's ability to breathe.
Symptoms of Hemorrhage of the Lung in Cats
There are certain symptoms that may indicate your cat is suffering from hemorrhage in the lungs. It is important to see your veterinarian as soon as any signs of respiratory distress are present. Below are some common symptoms associated with this condition in domestic cats:
- Bluish colored mucous membranes
- Coughing up blood
- Difficulty breathing
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
Causes of Hemorrhage of the Lung in Cats
While the most common cause of hemorrhage in the lungs in cats is traumatic injury, there are other conditions that can cause this type of bleeding to occur. The following are some of the most common causes seen in domestic cats:
- Traumatic injury
- Blood clotting disorders
- Cancerous tumors in the lungs
- Chemical poisoning
Thrombocytopenia is a condition that reduces your cat's blood clotting ability. It also increases the likelihood of bleeding in your cat's body. Below are some conditions that cause thrombocytopenia, which can in turn cause a hemorrhage in your cat's lungs:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Heart disease
- Evans syndrome
- Inflammatory conditions
Diagnosis of Hemorrhage of the Lung in Cats
In order to diagnose your cat's condition, your doctor will ask you some very important questions regarding his health history. Be sure to inform him of any issues during birth, previously diagnosed health conditions, toxic substance exposure and traumatic injury. After taking a medical history, your doctor will examine your cat thoroughly. He will check his vital signs including temperature, weight, heart rate and rate of respiration. During the exam, your doctor will also evaluate your cat's neurological function and listen to his chest. After the exam, your doctor will draw some blood from your cat and run laboratory tests. The typical panel includes a biochemical profile and a complete blood count or CBC. He will also take a urine sample for evaluation. Diagnostic tests such as chest X-rays will also be performed to determine if there is a hemorrhage in the lungs. If a trauma to the chest occurred, these X-rays will show any fractures. If any blood disorders are suspected, your doctor will also order blood clotting tests.
Most cats with hemorrhaging in the lungs will be admitted to the hospital for symptom management. Your cat will be monitored for any signs of infection or shock that may also occur during this time. An IV may be placed to deliver fluids and medication as needed.
Treatment of Hemorrhage of the Lung in Cats
The treatment of hemorrhage in the lung in cats depends upon the cause. If traumatic injury has occurred, your doctor will work to stabilize your cat with oxygen, fluids, and medication. Your doctor will also close as many wounds as possible In severe cases, surgery may be required to close multiple or deep wounds. If blood clotting disorders are present and causing symptoms, your cat will most likely receive a blood transfusion and supportive nutrition through his IV. If lung bleeding is the result of a cancerous tumor, your cat may require surgery to remove the tumor. If the tumor has spread or is inoperable, your cat may receive chemotherapy or radiation. Cats diagnosed with thrombocytopenia are often treated successfully with daily doses of steroids such as prednisone. In any case, if your cat lost a significant amount of blood, a transfusion may be performed to replace it.
Recovery of Hemorrhage of the Lung in Cats
Your cat will require monitoring for several weeks following treatment for bleeding in the lungs. Most cats will be on cage rest after being released from the hospital and will require several follow-up appointments. During these appointments, your doctor will check your cat's respiration rate, breath sounds, lungs and heart rate. He will also examine his mucous membranes to be sure his oxygen levels are normal. If your cat has signs of infection, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. Pain will also be monitored and managed with NSAID'S if necessary.
It is important to notify your doctor if any signs of respiratory distress are present after your cat is discharged. Your doctor will give you detailed instructions regarding your cat’s medication, care and nutrition. If you notice any labored breathing, blue colored gums or panting, be sure to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. If your cat has suffered serious traumatic injury or poisoning, your doctor may recommend euthanasia as the most humane form of treatment.