What Outcome Can I Expect From Surgery?

When surgery is performed early (before noise worsens), the following are the generalisations:

  • 90% will have a mild, moderate or marked improvement in noise, with both snoring and respiration when exercising.
  • 50% will have a very marked (significant) reduction in noise.
  • 10% won’t have a reduction in noise.
  • 50% of owners notice a significant improvement in their dogs exercise ability, even when they felt there were no concerns prior because they were already reasonably good with their exercise. This is one of the most important points to take into consideration, which relates back to the topic “Why should I consider airway surgery?”
  • Of the 10% that do not experience a reduction in noise, they will at least have a significantly reduced chance of progressive airway disease.

The above percentages of good improvement reduce slowly up to two years of age, then far more rapidly after two years of age. However if very severe problems exist at 2-10 years it is still important, almost more so, to correct problems to halt or reduce worsening concerns, even if there is far less chance of getting noise reduction and improved exercise and heat tolerance.

Why do some seemingly perfectly well exercising dogs seem to exercise a lot better after surgery?

Quite simply, we have removed an obstacle stopping the natural flow of oxygen to their system. Dogs are stoic and will run around, wag their tail and play as much as they possibly can. However they will do this with more energy if not impeded by an amount of soft tissue extending down their throat.

This is the crux of an ongoing debate and the denial of many breeders. Because so many dogs get around seemingly well, consideration is not given to corrective surgery.

The other major concern is that if a dog is examined by a non-brachycephalic veterinarian at desexing or otherwise, often incorrect advice is given that there is no concern. Hence one of the main reasons for examination and assessment by a highly experienced brachycephalic surgeon is imperative to give your dog the very best chance of the most comfortable and energetic life possible.

Why do 10% of patients have no noise reduction?

The following are the reasons no noise reduction may occur in order of most likely to least likely:

  • Inexperienced or less skilled surgeons doing the original surgery. Including taking too little off the soft palate, not removing everted laryngeal saccules, or not thinning a palate that is not only long, but excessively thick.
  • Hypoplastic trachea
  • Caudal aberrant turbinates
  • Redundant pharyngeal mucosa (surgery done too late)
  • Laryngeal collapse (surgery done too late)