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Epiglottic Retroversion

Clinician's Brief (Capsule)

Respiratory Medicine

|October 2015

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Epiglottic retroversion—a rare, poorly understood condition in dogs—occurs when the epiglottis is episodically retroflexed into the rima glottidis, causing airway obstruction. This case report described the management of epiglottic retroversion. The patient was presented with clinical signs associated with upper airway obstruction. Multiple surgical strategies were attempted; all failed. Ultimately, subtotal epiglottectomy across the widest base of the epiglottis was performed, with resolution of clinical signs through 17 months postoperatively.


Clinical signs associated with epiglottic retroversion mimic other causes of upper airway obstruction in dogs with similar conformation and present a true emergency. Diagnosis requires meticulous airway examination and an understanding of normal epiglottic and rima glottidis position. Specific recommendations cannot be made from the few isolated reported cases in dogs. Further work is needed to understand the underlying disease mechanism, perhaps guided by other species (eg, horses) that experience similar, more frequent epiglottic entrapment in order to direct optimal treatment.—Jason Bleedorn, DVM, DACVS


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