What is Mid-Chest Inflammation?
Mid-chest inflammation is typically a symptom of an underlying injury or infection, of which there are numerous causes. The severity of the condition will depend on the underlying condition. Since some of these conditions are life-threatening, it is important that you seek immediate veterinary care for your cat if you suspect it is suffering from mid-chest inflammation.
The mid-chest area of your cat’s respiratory and chest cavity is called the mediastinum. Mid-chest inflammation in your cat is a condition in which inflammation, or swelling, occurs in this area. This is also referred to as mediastinitis or mediastinal disease.
Symptoms of Mid-Chest Inflammation in Cats
Since mid-chest inflammation is the result of an underlying condition that could be due to a number of injuries or diseases, the symptoms can vary in appearance and severity. There are, however, several common symptoms and behaviors to watch for that could potentially indicate your cat is suffering from the condition. These may include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Fever (indicating infection in the mid-chest area)
- Swelling of the neck or head
- Regurgitation or vomiting of food (indicating difficulty to pass through esophagus due to swelling/inflammation)
- Difficulty in moving head or neck
- Raspy or audibly loud breath sounds
Causes of Mid-Chest Inflammation in Cats
Mid-chest inflammation is an issue that may be caused by a number of conditions. Infection or injury are the most common suspected culprits. Specific causes may include:
- Foreign body
- Bacterial infection
- Fungal infection
- Perforation of the esophagus
- Pneumomediastinum, or air in the mediastinal space
- Narrowing of mediastinal space caused by scar tissue from chronic inflammation
Diagnosis of Mid-Chest Inflammation in Cats
Diagnosis of mid-chest inflammation in your cat will begin with a thorough physical exam conducted by your veterinarian. Since there are a number of underlying conditions that may cause mid-chest inflammation, it will be important that you provide your vet with as much information as possible to assist in providing an accurate diagnosis. You should make particular note of any unusual behavior in your cat, the approximate onset of symptoms, and any changing or escalation of the condition. Since injury is a potential culprit, you should also let your veterinarian know if your cat has recently experienced any trauma, fallen from extreme heights, or had another injury.
Depending on your cat’s symptoms, your vet may run a full blood panel and urinalysis. This standard diagnostic tool will help determine whether your cat is suffering from an underlying infection. Collecting a blood or urine sample are generally quick and simple procedures that will not require your cat to be sedated or cause excessive discomfort.
Chest x-rays, ultrasound or other imaging may also be requested. Imaging will show whether your cat’s lungs or chest cavity contain a buildup of fluids, or large air spaces, which may indicate infection. Ultrasound imaging may also be able to identify any perforations from injury or the presence of any foreign bodies such as sticks or toys. In order to obtain the best quality images with these procedures, your cat may need to be anesthetized or sedated.
If a foreign object is located or suspected in the esophagus as a cause of the mid-chest inflammation, your vet may perform additional diagnostic testing and potentially treatment by inserting a small camera down your cat’s throat. This will require your cat to be completely still and therefore, anesthetized for the procedure.
Treatment of Mid-Chest Inflammation in Cats
Treatment of the mid-chest inflammation in your cat will depend on which underlying condition is creating the symptoms. In the case of bacterial or fungal infection, your vet will prescribe an appropriate antibiotic. Once administered, you will generally begin seeing improvement within several days. If fluid is present in connection with an infection, your veterinarian may recommend draining the excess in order to alleviate pressure on the esophagus or surrounding chest and neck area.
If a foreign body is located, your vet will have several treatment options depending on whether the object has caused any perforation or tearing of the surrounding tissues. If this has occurred, your cat may need surgery to repair the damage. If the item can be dislodged, it may be sufficient to monitor your cat and support their healing through rest and appropriate treatment of pain.
Treatment for other trauma or injury will be the same and will depend on whether there is any damage that will not heal with adequate support and time.
Recovery of Mid-Chest Inflammation in Cats
Once the underlying cause of the mid-chest inflammation in your cat has been diagnosed and an appropriate treatment plan initiated, prognosis for a full recovery is very good. In many cases, rest and carefully following your veterinarian’s prescribed course of treatment will allow your cat to lead a full, normal life. In the case of perforation, follow up appointments will be needed to remove any stitches and to monitor for proper healing.