What is Closure of Soft Palate Defect?

Closure of a soft palate defect in dogs is a surgical procedure used to correct soft palate abnormalities. A defect of the soft palate is inherited or a genetic abnormality passed down from the parents, present in the pup at birth. Dog breeds such as the Bull Mastiff, Shih Tzu, Chinese Pug, Bulldogs and the Pekingese are all prone to soft palate abnormalities. A soft palate defect can affect the way a dog eats, breathes and even vocalizes, which are common reasons dog owners seek out professional veterinary help. A soft palate defect closure is performed by a licensed and experienced veterinary surgeon in a clinic, or hospital setting. 

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Closure of Soft Palate Defect Procedure in Dogs

Prior to conducting the closure soft palate defect, tests will be performed to ensure the canine is healthy enough to undergo surgery. A chemistry profile will tell the veterinarian how the internal organs are functioning, which is important when a surgical procedure needs to be performed. If the dog is in good health, the surgical procedure will proceed with a pre-sedative drug to prepare the canine for the procedure. During the procedure, the canine will remain relaxed and comfortable with a gas anesthetic paired with oxygen infusion.

The surgical correction of a soft palate defect can be performed as early as three to four months of age for canines with congenital defects. The veterinary surgeon will begin the procedure by splitting the soft palate into two sections using metzenbaum scissors. Any and all necrotic tissue will be dissected from the tissue margins to allow the two sections to properly heal together. The doctor will align the two sections together and close the soft palate in two layers; nasal and palatal. The palatal mucosa layer of the soft palate will be dissected from the maxillary bone in a 1 mm debridement from the margin. An incision will then be made along both arcades (formation of the teeth, AKA dental arcades) for the entire length of the defect. Once both sides of the arcade tissue is released, a graft will be obtained from the full thickness of the palate, making sure to avoid the major palatine artery. The edges of the grafted tissue are then faced and sutured with a simple, interrupted suture pattern. The dog will then be allowed to recover and the total healing time of this soft palate closure technique will take approximately four weeks.  

Efficacy of Closure of Soft Palate Defect in Dogs

Closure of soft palate defect in dogs is a highly effective form of corrective surgery for most soft palate abnormalities. Some canines are born with a defect too severe to correct and, therefore, the effectiveness of this surgical procedure greatly decreases. 

Closure of Soft Palate Defect Recovery in Dogs

After the closure soft palate defect is performed, postoperative pain is controlled through a combination of long-acting anesthetics, opioids and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Antibiotics are not necessary if the canine is otherwise healthy, but a broad-spectrum antibiotic may be given to those with underlying disease. Water will be offered to the patient after anesthesia and the canine will be allowed a soft food diet 8 to 24 hours after surgery. Dogs are often given an esophagostomy tube, which allows food to pass the oral cavity directly into the stomach, to ensure proper nutrition. Diluted chlorhexidine solution will be administered into the mouth every day for about two weeks to minimize the chance of infection.

Cost of Closure of Soft Palate Defect in Dogs

A canine soft palate defect closure surgery can cost anywhere from $200 to $3,000 to have performed. The cost of the surgery depends on the severity of the dog’s condition and aftercare requirements. 

Dog Closure of Soft Palate Defect Considerations

The closure of a soft palate defect will not cure major defects of the soft palate. Some dogs may require euthanasia if the defect is so severe that oxygen intake is impaired.

Closure of Soft Palate Defect Prevention in Dogs

A defect of the soft palate is inherited or a genetic abnormality passed down from the parents, present in the pup at birth. The only way to prevent this defect is to prevent all known dogs with the defect from reproducing.