Background: Foreign body aspiration is a differential diagnosis for acute or chronic cough that requires medical or surgical management in animals.
Hypothesis: Success of bronchoscopy in airway foreign body removal is dependent on the size of the animal, duration of clinical signs, and location of the foreign body.
Animals: Thirty-two dogs and 5 cats with airway foreign bodies identified at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.
Methods: Retrospective case study evaluating the role of duration of clinical signs and body size in successful bronchoscopic removal of foreign bodies. In addition, radiographic localization of disease was compared with bronchoscopic identification. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) culture and cytologic findings are reported.
Results: Bronchoscopy was successful for removal of airway foreign bodies in 76% of animals (24/28 dogs and 2/5 cats), and in dogs was independent of duration of clinical signs or body size. One-third of thoracic radiographs lacked distinctive features of an airway foreign body, and therefore radiography was unable to predict the affected site. BAL fluid at the site of the foreign body contained more neutrophils and more often had intracellular bacteria than lavage fluid from a separate site.
Conclusions and Clinical Importance: Bronchoscopy was successful in removing airway foreign bodies regardless of animal size or long duration of clinical signs. Results of this study confirm the utility of bronchoscopy with lavage in management of suspected foreign bodies, even in the absence of localizing radiographic findings.