One of the more common reasons for performing CT on a patient at AVC is for chronic sneezing and/or bloody nasal discharge. In most cases, the patient is a dog, but sometimes cats are seen for this condition as well. CT is a highly sensitive tool in determining the cause of the bleeding or discharge from the nose. The information gained helps determine prognosis and the best course of treatment.
Unfortunately, many patients are referred too late when the underlying problem is cancer. If many months have passed and a dog has undiagnosed nasal cancer (usually adenocarcinoma), bony destruction and extent of disease is usually so advanced that treatment is no longer an option. For dogs where adenocarcinoma is detected early and is localized to a small area, prognosis can be very good when radiation therapy is pursued. Survival rates at 2 years for patients receiving radiation therapy ranges from 10-48%. The smaller the tumor and the earlier the detection, the more likely that a dog will have an almost 50% chance of survival at 2 years. For more information on nasal tumors, please visit vsso.org.
There are certainly other causes for nasal bleeding, discharge and sneezing. The most common cause tends to be rhinitis, which is inflammation of the nares. These patients tend to be of large breed with long noses. Biopsies are taken with a small instrument at the time that the CT is performed to confirm a diagnosis of rhinitis.
Unlike people, nasal polyps are very uncommon in dogs but are sometimes seen in cats. Fungal infections are also uncommon but sometimes diagnosed. Approximately 10% of patients with disease of the nares will have an underlying fungal infection. In our experience, these patients are young and tend to have originated from southern states.
X-rays are often not sensitive enough in evaluating the nasal cavity. Anesthesia is required and multiple views need to be taken. CT on the other hand is very sensitive in evaluating the small bones in the nose, the thin bone that separates the nasal cavity from the brain, and the bulla of the middle ear. Although anesthesia is required for CT evaluation, the procedure is fast and the anesthetic agents used are short acting. Patients are discharged soon after the scan. CT images are uploaded to the internet and sent off to a boarded radiologist for review. In most cases results are available within just a few hours after submitting the scan.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions about CT and whether or not it may help with a particular nasal problem in a pet.