What is Tracheoscopy and Bronchoscopy?

Symptoms such as persistent coughing, retching, and gagging in dogs can be caused by many different issues. These causes can range in severity from easily treatable to life-threatening. To help identify primary health issues, diagnostic procedures such as a tracheoscopy or a bronchoscopy may be used.

These methods are chosen after basic examinations and x-rays have proved unable to confirm a diagnosis. They are both minimally invasive procedures that use an endoscopic tube with a camera to examine the upper and lower respiratory tract while the dog is under general anesthesia. Detailed images, videos and biopsies can be collected during these examinations. A veterinarian who has access to bronchoscopic equipment may offer these diagnostic services.

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Tracheoscopy and Bronchoscopy Procedure in Dogs

To begin the diagnostic process, the dog will be physically examined to note all symptoms that are present. X-rays may be taken to locate foreign objects or growths in the respiratory tract. If further confirmation is needed, a tracheoscopy or bronchoscopy may then be recommended. General anesthesia is required for these procedures, so a full panel of blood work will need to be run to assess the dog's health condition.

The dog may be required to fast for several hours before the internal examination. To administer the general anesthesia, smaller dogs will be receive an IV and an oxygen catheter, while medium to large breeds will require an endotracheal tube. The endoscopic camera will then be placed down the trachea via the mouth. Images and videos may be collected as the camera goes through the upper and lower respiratory tract. 

Tissue from any abnormalities or growths will be collected using a special endoscopic tool. In a bronchoscopy, fluid will be flushed through the respiratory tract and then brought back in a process called a “bronchial lavage". This method collects samples of the fluid that exists in the tracheal lining so that it may be further examined at a laboratory. The camera and tools are then removed up and out of the throat and mouth.

Efficacy of Tracheoscopy and Bronchoscopy in Dogs

Both of these endoscopic procedures are used as measures to diagnose health conditions as opposed to treating them. They are very effective for identifying specific bacteria or types of cancer. Endoscopy is a minimally invasive way to collect tissue samples for evaluation. Pinpointing the underlying cause of symptoms is the first step in the treatment process. Both tracheoscopy and bronchoscopy are low risk options to help confirm a diagnosis.

Tracheoscopy and Bronchoscopy Recovery in Dogs

The dog should be monitored closely during the time in which the anesthesia wears off. In some cases, the dog may be discharged shortly after the procedure has taken place, however, it may be hospitalized for one night. There are no activity restrictions after a tracheoscopy or bronchoscopy. These diagnostic methods rarely bring complications of any kind. A follow-up appointment will likely be required to discuss the results from any lab work that has been done. At this point, the veterinarian should be able to determine if further treatment is necessary. Both medical and surgical treatment may be needed depending on the diagnosis.

Cost of Tracheoscopy and Bronchoscopy in Dogs

The cost for advanced internal imaging generally ranges from $1,500 up to $2,000. This is because special equipment and technology is needed to carry out these procedures. If a bronchial lavage is used, this may increase costs. Blood work and lab analyses will also bring the total price up. Diagnostic measures are often the beginning of costs to treat respiratory issues. A course of antibiotics, surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy may be needed once the primary health issue has been identified.

Dog Tracheoscopy and Bronchoscopy Considerations

There are very few complications associated with a tracheoscopy or bronchoscopy. As with any procedure that uses general anesthesia, negative reactions including labored breathing or death are possible, though very rare. Some dogs develop a wet cough or cough more frequently for a period of time after these examinations have been performed.

Tracheoscopy and Bronchoscopy Prevention in Dogs

Both tracheoscopy and bronchoscopy are used to determine the cause of chronic respiratory and tracheal issues. To prevent the need for these procedures, various precautions may be taken. Cancer can be hereditary, but limiting exposure to known cancer-causing agents may decrease the chance of it developing or slow down its progression. It is always important to request your dog's family health history when obtaining the animal to help prepare for inherited diseases. 

Boosting your dog's immune system may prevent an infection from forming in its respiratory tract. This may be done with daily supplementation paired with a high quality diet. It is difficult to prevent your dog from inhaling small pieces of food or plant matter, but monitoring the animal when it is eating or playing outside may help.