Postoperative pulmonary complications in dogs undergoing laparotomy: Frequency, characterization and disease-related risk factors

Amy J. Alwood, Benjamin M. Brainard, Elizabeth LaFond, Kenneth J. Drobatz, Lesley G. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the frequency of postoperative pulmonary complications (PPCs) in dogs following laparotomy, characterize the nature of PPCs, and identify disease-related risk factors for PPCs in dogs. Design: Retrospective clinical study. Setting: University-affiliated small animal teaching hospital. Animals: One hundred and sixty-two dogs without preoperative pulmonary pathology that underwent laparotomy surgery. Interventions: None. Measurements and main results: Cases were evaluated for factors including patient signalment, preexisting disease, primary and ancillary surgical procedure(s), development of postoperative pulmonary disease, characteristics of perioperative hospitalization and therapy, and survival. Twenty-two percent of dogs in the study developed PPCs. PPCs included respiratory arrest (n=4), acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) (n=3), pneumonia (n=8), hypoventilation (n=13), and transient hypoxemia (n=8). Dogs that developed PPCs had a significantly longer duration of oxygen therapy, longer duration of stay in intensive care unit (ICU), and decreased survival. Dogs with perioperative vomiting or regurgitation were more likely to develop PPCs. Animals that underwent exploratory laparotomy for biliary or septic peritonitis were also more likely to develop PPCs. Conclusions: PPCs occur in dogs following laparotomy and contribute significantly to the morbidity and mortality of these surgical patients. In this patient population, animals with vomiting, regurgitation, or peritonitis may be at a higher risk of developing PPCs. Animals with the identified risk factors should be monitored carefully postoperatively for development of pulmonary complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-183
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2006


  • ARDS
  • Abdominal surgery
  • Canine
  • Hypoxemia
  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory dysfunction


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