Stadler K, O’Brien R.
Upper airway obstruction is a potentially life-threatening problem in cats and for which a noninvasive, sensitive method rapid diagnosis is needed. The purposes of this prospective study were to describe a computed tomography (CT) technique for nonanesthetized cats with upper airway obstruction, CT characteristics of obstructive diseases, and comparisons between CT findings and findings from other diagnostic tests. Ten cats with clinical signs of upper airway obstruction were recruited for the study. Four cats with no clinical signs of upper airway obstruction were recruited as controls. All cats underwent computed tomography imaging without sedation or anesthesia, using a 16-slice helical CT scanner and a previously described transparent positional device. Three-dimensional (3D) internal volume rendering was performed on all CT image sets and 3D external volume rendering was also performed on cats with evidence of mass lesions. Confirmation of upper airway obstruction was based on visual laryngeal examination, endoscopy, fine-needle aspirate, biopsy, or necropsy. Seven cats were diagnosed with intramural upper airway masses, two with laryngotracheitis, and one with laryngeal paralysis. The CT and 3D volume-rendered images identified lesions consistent with upper airway disease in all cats. In cats with mass lesions, CT accurately identified the mass and location. Findings from this study supported the use of CT imaging as an effective technique for diagnosing upper airway obstruction in nonanesthetized cats.