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Pouch-like Sacs on the Esophageal Wall in Dogs

Esophageal Diverticula in Dogs

Esophageal diverticula in dogs present as large, pouch-like sacs protruding from the esophageal wall. Pulsion diverticula occur when the esophageal wall pushes outward due to increased pressure within the esophagus, often caused by obstruction or impaired muscle function. Traction diverticula, on the other hand, develop as a result of inflammation leading to fibrosis and contraction, pulling the esophageal wall into a pouch. These diverticula typically form near the esophageal inlet or close to the diaphragm, where food may become trapped as it moves from the mouth to the stomach. The condition affects various organ systems including the gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, and respiratory systems. While there’s no confirmed genetic basis, diverticula may be either congenital or acquired. It affects dogs and cats indiscriminately, showing no specific breed or gender predisposition.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms and types of esophageal diverticula in dogs include regurgitation after eating, difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite, and coughing. Weight loss and respiratory distress, which can lead to aspiration pneumonia, are also common signs of the condition.

Causes

  • Pulsion Diverticulum
  • Embryonic developmental disorders affecting the esophageal wall
  • Esophageal foreign body or impaired muscle movement hindering food passage
  • Traction Diverticulum
  • Inflammatory processes involving the trachea, lungs, lymph nodes, or stomach lining, leading to fibrous tissue formation around the esophagus

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will perform an esophagram or esophagoscopy to examine the diverticula and identify any related masses. X-rays of the chest area and fluoroscopic examinations will help assess food movement through the esophagus, providing insight into the diverticulum’s location within the esophageal wall. Injecting a radiocontrasting agent into the esophagus may enhance visibility on X-rays, allowing for precise determination as the substance fills the pouches while moving down the esophagus.

Treatment

If the diverticulum is small and not causing notable clinical signs, your veterinarian might suggest a dietary adjustment for your dog. A soft, bland diet given frequently along with ample fluids can likely pass through the esophagus to the stomach without obstruction. In cases where the diverticulum is large or associated with significant clinical symptoms, surgical removal will likely be recommended. The risk of food entering the lungs and causing aspiration pneumonia underscores the importance of dietary management to prevent life-threatening complications. If aspiration pneumonia occurs, intensive care will be necessary, including fluid therapy, antibiotics, and nutritional support via tube feeding. Medications will be prescribed by your veterinarian based on the diagnosis.

Recovery and Management

Your veterinarian will monitor your dog for signs of infection or aspiration pneumonia and take preventive measures accordingly. Maintaining a positive nutritional balance throughout the disease process is essential. Patients with diverticula and impaction are at risk of complications such as perforation, fistula, stricture, and postoperative incision rupture. Therefore, your veterinarian will schedule regular follow-up appointments to assess your dog’s condition. The prognosis is guarded for patients with large diverticula and noticeable clinical symptoms.

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