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J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1999 Feb 15;214(4):508-12.

Tracheal rupture in cats: 16 cases (1983-1998).

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Department of Companion Animal and Special Species, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh 27606, USA.



To determine causes of tracheal rupture in cats and the mechanism of injury.


A retrospective study was conducted to identify cats with tracheal rupture. A second study was conducted to establish mechanism of injury, and a third study was conducted to determine volume of air needed to obtain an airtight seal when inflating the cuff of an endotracheal tube in a cat.


16 cats with clinical signs of tracheal rupture, 10 cat cadavers, and 20 clinically normal cats that were undergoing anesthesia.


Details were extracted from medical records of 16 cats with tracheal rupture (9 treated surgically and 7 treated conservatively). For the cadaver study, the trachea of each cat cadaver was intubated and observed during overinflation of the endotracheal tube cuff. For clinically normal cats, volume of air needed to obtain an airtight seal for the endotracheal tube was recorded.


Most ruptures were associated with cats anesthetized for dental procedures. Clinical signs associated with tracheal rupture included subcutaneous emphysema, coughing, gagging, dyspnea, anorexia, and fever. Tracheoscopy was the method of choice for documenting tracheal rupture. Surgical and conservative management were successfully used, unless the injury extended to the carina. In the cadaver study, overinflation of the endotracheal tube cuff with > 6 ml of air resulted in tracheal rupture in 7 of 10 cadavers. For clinically normal cats, the volume of air (mean +/- SD) needed to obtain an airtight seal was 1.6 +/- 0.7 ml.


Overinflation of an endotracheal tube cuff may result in tracheal rupture in cats.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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