What are Tracheal Resection and Anastomosis?

A 'resection' is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of a damaged or diseased portion of a body part, leaving the intact portions of the organ behind and joining them back together so that they can continue functioning as normal. An 'anastomosis' is a process whereby the surgeon will join two parts of a tube-structure within the body (such as the intestines) together after the tunnel has previously been severed, thereby allowing matter to continue passing along the tube from end to end. A vet may choose to perform these surgeries on a dog's trachea as a last resort, in order to remove a damaged section and allow the animal to continue breathing properly. 

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Tracheal Resection and Anastomosis Procedure in Dogs

Prior to starting the operation, the dog administered general anesthetic before their throat is shaved and cleaned with antiseptic fluid to prevent infection. The surgeon will then make a lateral incision across the portion of the trachea that they are intending to excise. The skin and tissues beneath will be parted to reveal the trachea itself, at which point a scalpel will be used to make clean cuts at points on either side of the diseased portion, allowing it to be removed from the body. Next, the two 'ends' of the trachea will be drawn together and fixed in place. Sutures or staples may be used in order to bind the two pieces of the trachea together, depending on the surgeon's preference. Finally, the wound will be cleaned and stitched shut and the dog will be allowed to awaken.

Efficacy of Tracheal Resection and Anastomosis in Dogs

A resection is an extremely effective means of removing an immediate threat to the dog's health (i.e. infected tissue or a tumor) and will, in conjunction with the appropriate follow-up treatment, normally result in a permanent solution to the problem. However, some owners may remain unwilling to go through with the procedure on account of its invasiveness. Because of this, they may opt for alternative treatments such as antibiotics or chemotherapy. Whilst these can be effective in many situations, it is worth bearing in mind that by the time a resection and anastomosis is recommended, these methods will likely have already been considered and ruled out or simply been proven ineffective. 

Tracheal Resection and Anastomosis Recovery in Dogs

Following the operation, it is imperative that the dog gets plenty of rest and forgoes strenuous physical activity for several weeks. This will both conserve their energy and allow them to recover properly and simultaneously lessen the risk of them re-opening their surgical wounds. The vet will most likely want to schedule a series of follow-up appointments, as this will give them a chance to both assess the progress of the dog's recovery and to administer any further treatment that may be needed (such as an additional course of chemotherapy). It should be pointed out that in order for the dog to avoid too much discomfort and the possibility of an infection, owners will have to regularly administer antibiotics and painkillers throughout the day for several weeks.

Cost of Tracheal Resection and Anastomosis in Dogs

Due to the delicate nature of the operation and the commensurate amount of skill required to perform it, owners can expect to pay a premium for the procedure to be carried out on their dog. In most cases, the price can be in excess of $2,000 with aftercare included. By way of contrast, alternative treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy can cost just several hundred dollars per course, though they may well prove to be far less effective and allow the problem to spread to other parts of the dog's body.

Dog Tracheal Resection and Anastomosis Considerations

A number of dog owners have expressed worries due to the drastic nature of the procedures, despite the surgery's ability to quickly deal with serious health problems originating in the trachea. Chief amongst these is the worry that the dog may continue to have impaired breathing following the operation. Although there is a slight chance of the trachea healing incorrectly and developing a curved shape, this will typically not have an effect on the dog's ability to inhale and exhale. Instead, the surgeon will be able to directly influence the manner of the trachea's healing due to the use of surgical staples or sutures to fix it in place.

Tracheal Resection and Anastomosis Prevention in Dogs

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to accurately predict the appearance of many types of cancer in dogs, due to the fact that many tumors are hereditary in nature, being passed on via unnoticed genetic defects. However, keeping the dog away from known carcinogens such as spilt chemicals or cigarette smoke will help immensely with preventing tumors caused by environmental factors. Similarly, training the dog to avoid potentially dangerous situations with other animals and not to stray away from its owner or property will reduce the chances of it incurring penetrating injuries inflicted by other dogs.