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Keywords:

  • Asthma;
  • Cytology;
  • Pneumonia;
  • Pulmonary neoplasia;
  • Respiratory tract endoscopy

Background: Diagnosis of lower respiratory disease requires collection of airway samples to confirm the etiology of disease. Bronchoscopic evaluation is commonly performed in dogs but less information is available in cats.

Hypothesis: The presence and number of bronchoscopic abnormalities visualized during bronchoscopic evaluation of cats with lower respiratory disease will correlate with the type of disease and total and differential cell counts in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid.

Animals: Forty-eight cats prospectively evaluated by a single bronchoscopist.

Methods: Bronchoscopy was performed during clinical evaluation of cats presenting with cough, respiratory distress, or both. Cats were evaluated for airway hyperemia, stenosis, or collapse, mucus accumulation, bronchiectasis, and epithelial irregularities. Cats were placed into groups of bronchitis/“asthma,” pneumonia, or neoplasia based on BAL findings, histopathology, and response to appropriate medical therapy. Summation of bronchial abnormalities and total and differential cell counts were compared among groups.

Results: Endobronchial abnormalities were common in cats with feline bronchitis/asthma, pneumonia, and neoplasia and no differentiating features were found. Excessive mucus accumulation was common (83%), followed by stenosis of bronchial openings and nodular epithelial irregularities (56%), airway hyperemia (54%), airway collapse (48%), and bronchiectasis (27%). Total bronchoscopic score and total cell count did not differ among groups, although differential cell counts were significantly different. A weak correlation (R2= 0.16, P= .006) between age and total bronchoscopic score was noted.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance: Bronchoscopic abnormalities are common in cats with lower respiratory tract disease, and visualization of the airways provides additional nonspecific clinical information in cats.