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Indications, outcomes and complications following lateral thoracotomy in dogs and cats



Objectives: Lateral thoracotomy is widely used for surgical management of thoracic diseases in small animals. The purpose of this paper is to describe the indications for lateral thoracotomy in dogs and cats and the associated outcomes and complications.

Methods: Medical records of animals undergoing lateral thoracotomy were reviewed and owners contacted regarding complications and survival. Relationships between signalment and treatment variables and outcome variables were investigated.

Results: Seventy dogs and 13 cats underwent lateral thoracotomy. Sixty-two per cent of cats and 91 per cent of dogs survived to discharge. Survival to discharge was significantly lower in cats than dogs, for neoplastic than non-neoplastic disease and in older animals. Survival to discharge was higher in animals undergoing patent ductus arteriosus ligation than in those undergoing lung lobectomy or oesophageal surgery. Survival to discharge was not related to surgeon experience. The incidence of complications was not related to species, age, disease, duration of surgery, surgeon experience or duration of thoracostomy tube placement. A low complication rate (5 per cent) was associated with thoracostomy tubes.

Clinical Significance: The approach of lateral thoracotomy has a minimal complication rate and animals with a disease requiring this approach have a high survival rate.