Endotracheal tube placement during computed tomography of brachycephalic dogs alters upper airway dimensional measurements.

21 Mar 2018

Computed tomography (CT) is used to document upper airway lesions in dogs with brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome. The presence of an endotracheal tube during CT scanning is often required for general anesthesia. We hypothesized that the endotracheal tube placement would change the soft tissue dimensions of the upper airway. The aims of this prospective, method comparison study were to evaluate the reliability of the previously reported upper airway CT measurements with endotracheal tube placement, and to propose measurements that are minimally affected by the endotracheal tube. Twenty brachycephalic dogs were included in this study. Each dog underwent head/neck CT with an endotracheal tube, followed by a second scan without the endotracheal tube. Ten measurements of the soft palate, nasopharynx, and trachea were performed. Tracheal dimension was significantly larger with the endotracheal tube compared to without, whereas the soft palate cross-sectional area was significantly smaller with the endotracheal tube than without the endotracheal tube. The influence of the endotracheal tube on the caudal nasopharynx cross-sectional (transverse-sectional) area varied with a mean proportional absolute difference of 35%. Rostral soft palate thickness, tracheal perimeter, and cross-sectional area of the rostral nasopharynx were the measurements least affected by the endotracheal tube (intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.964, 0.967, and 0.951, respectively). Therefore, we proposed that these three measurements may be most useful for future brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome studies that require CT scanning of intubated animals. However, with endotracheal tube placement, measurements of soft palate length, caudal nasopharyngeal cross-sectional area, and trachea height and width may not be reliable.