Brachycephalic Upper Airway Syndrome (BUAS) – diagnosis

Diagnostic testing:

In addition to direct visualization of structures it is wise to evaluate both the neck and chest. This is most commonly performed with radiographs (X-rays). Structures to evaluate include the oro/nasopharynx, trachea, lungs (for pneumonia, etc), and cardiac disease. If cardiac disease is suspected due to auscultation and radiographs, an echocardiogram is recommended. A complete blood count (CBC), chemistry and urinalysis should be performed prior to anesthesia to assess total body function and if your pet is a good anesthetic and surgical candidate.

A very important part of the diagnostic workup performed just before surgery is the oral examination. One way to evaluate the upper airway is endoscopy of both the larynx and esophagus. This will provide a very thorough evaluation of the soft palate, ventricles and laryngeal function.

Direct visualization is the most common way of diagnosing the associated factors of the brachycephalic dog. The nares are narrower than a normal dog and the airflow is distorted.  For a sedated oral exam, the patient is typically anesthetized (light plane of anesthesia). Evaluating the laryngeal function in these dogs is very important in differentiating laryngeal paralysis from laryngeal collapse.

The mainstay of treatment for BUAS remains surgical, however some medical measures can also be taken. When considering medical management, it is important to focus on factors that can cause worsening of the signs, such as weight loss and allergies. Other factors to consider are housing the patient in a cool environment, avoiding the use of neck leads, decreased activity levels and the use of gastroprotectants for any concurrent vomiting or regurgitation.


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