WHAT IS A DIAPHRAGMATIC HERNIA?
A diaphragmatic hernia in cats occurs when there is a break in the continuity of the diaphragm and this allows protrusion of abdominal viscera into the thorax. In small animals, such as dogs and cats, diaphragmatic hernias usually follow violent trauma such as car accidents or falling from very high. Very rare, congenital defects of the diaphragm can lead to herniation.
WHAT ARE THE CLINICAL SIGNS OF DIAPHRAGMATIC HERNIA IN CATS?
The clinical signs may vary depending on the animal and duration. In the acute state of diaphragmatic hernia, there is the obvious dyspnea. The dyspnea may vary from subclinical to life-threatening. In chronic cases, there might be weight loss too. On physical examination, the veterinarian will not be able to find lung sounds and may find some GI sounds in the thorax.
Diagnosis can be made with just a physical examination but it is preferred to be confirmed with an x-ray.
TREATMENT OF DIAPHRAGMATIC HERNIA
It is preferable to repair a diaphragmatic hernia surgically. More than often there is additional tearing of abdominal tissues that need to be repaired. In any case, the patient needs to be stabilized before surgery. If the patient had chronic diaphragmatic hernia it is very important for the surgery to go smooth and careful because reexpansion pulmonary edema is likely fatal.
In the video below, you can see a surgical repair of a peritoneal pericardial diaphragmatic hernia in a cat.
If you liked this post, see “Thoracic wall repair in a dog” on our blog.