27 September 2022

Meet Tucker, a 12-year-old Labrador who was referred to Soft Tissue Specialist Will Robinson, for investigation and management of suspected laryngeal paralysis.

Laryngeal paralysis is a rare condition where the nerve supply to the larynx (voicebox) is affected which reduces the animal’s ability to open his vocal chords when breathing in, resulting in exercise intolerance. In severe cases this can result in respiratory distress especially when the weather is hot or they are overly stressed.

In the majority of affected patients this is part of a more widespread neurological degenerative condition without a clear cause. It often occurs in older dogs and as the changes are usually subtle and slowly get worse the signs are often mistakenly confused with old age.

Diagnosing laryngeal paralysis can be challenging and involves looking for laryngeal movement when an animal is breathing in. Most animals won’t tolerate this when they are awake and require a short anaesthetic. The challenging part is making sure they aren’t too deeply anaesthetised as it would falsely look like paralysis when their laryngeal function is normal. In Tucker’s case we could confirm that he was suffering from paralysis.

Unfortunately for Tucker both sides of the larynx were affected so the decision was made to proceed with surgery. Tucker’s surgery involved permanently tying one side of the larynx open via a delicate procedure through the side of the neck. Following surgery Tucker recovered in our Intensive Care Unit under the supervision of our team of Emergency and Critical Care Specialists and he was able to go home the following day.

We are delighted to share that Tucker has recovered well and is making excellent progress at home and is back to enjoying life chasing tennis balls!

Well done Tucker!