Objectives - To summarize the presenting complaints and clinical signs associated with traumatic penetrating injuries to the canine oropharynx. To determine how the site of injury, causative agent, and duration of disease affect the presentation and clinical outcome of treatment. Study Design - Retrospective study. Sample Population - 50 client-owned dogs. Methods - The medical records of 50 dogs with oropharyngeal penetrating injuries referred to Glasgow University Veterinary Hospital (GUVH) between 1979-1999 were reviewed. Data regarding signalment, owners' presenting complaint, history, physical examination, radiographic and endoscopic findings, surgical findings, and outcome were recorded and compared with the GUVH population. Estimates of individual breed-specific odds ratios were calculated. Outcome was evaluated by reexamination 6 weeks after surgery with recurrence of disease recorded as failure. Results - Oropharyngeal injuries occurred most often in medium to large breed dogs. The majority of dogs presented with chronic disease (82%). The common findings on clinical examination were discharging sinus (72%) and swelling (70%). Acute cases typically presented with dysphagia and oral pain. The original site of injury was evident in only 34% of dogs, with the sublingual area the most frequently traumatized. The apparent cause of injury to the oropharynx was most commonly a piece of wood (72%). Other causes were metallic foreign bodies (3 dogs) and bones (2 dogs). In the remaining 9 dogs, the cause was not determined. The clinical signs resolved in all dogs that presented acutely compared with only 62% in dogs with chronic signs. Conclusion - Medium to large breed dogs appear to be prone to oropharyngeal injuries caused mainly by wooden foreign bodies. This may be attributable to stick chewing or retrieving behavior in these animals. Clinical Relevance - History of trauma, stick retrieval, submandibular/cervical swelling, and discharging sinus are commonly encountered in the presentation of this condition. The sublingual area was the most frequent portal of entry recorded, although in chronic cases the initial site of injury was often unclear. Radiography and endoscopy, while offering definitive diagnosis with positive findings, often provide false negative findings. Aggressive surgical debridement of all sinus tracts is essential in obtaining a successful result, but recovery of a foreign body is not necessarily a determinant of success.
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