Structural Characteristics of the Soft Palate and Meatus Nasopharyngeus in Brachycephalic and Non-Brachycephalic Dogs Analysed by CT

J Small Anim Pract. 2011 May;52(5):232-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-5827.2011.01047.x.


Objectives: The goal of this study was to compare the dimensions of the soft palate and cross-sectional area of the meatus nasopharyngeus in non-brachycephalic dogs and brachycephalic dogs with different degrees of severity of brachycephalic airway syndrome using computed tomography.

Methods: A total of 26 brachycephalic dogs that had at least one of four major symptoms of snoring, inspiratory effort, stress or exercise intolerance, and syncope were included in this prospective study. The dogs were grouped by the frequency of different clinical signs into absent/minimal brachycephalic airway syndrome and severe brachycephalic airway syndrome groups. Five non-brachycephalic dogs were studied as control animals. All dogs underwent pharyngeal area computed tomography. Seven measurements were made on the transverse and midsagittal reconstructions. All parameters were compared between controls, absent/minimal and severe brachycephalic airway syndrome groups.

Results: The dogs with severe brachycephalic airway syndrome had significantly thicker soft palates compared to absent/minimal brachycephalic airway syndrome (P<0·05) and control (P<0·05) dogs. There were no significant differences among groups with regard to the length of the soft palate or the cross-sectional area of the airway at the level of the meatus nasopharyngeus.

Clinical relevance: These results support the thickening of the soft palate as a component of severe brachycephalic airway syndrome. Further studies are required to confirm the association between this anatomical characteristic and functional impairment.

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / diagnostic imaging
  • Airway Obstruction / veterinary
  • Animals
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Craniosynostoses / diagnostic imaging
  • Craniosynostoses / veterinary*
  • Dog Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Male
  • Nasopharynx / anatomy & histology
  • Nasopharynx / diagnostic imaging*
  • Palate, Soft / anatomy & histology
  • Palate, Soft / diagnostic imaging*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / veterinary*