Cuffed endotracheal (ET) intubation is used by many veterinary practitioners when anaesthetizing the feline patient. Cuffed ET intubation can, however, result in tracheal injury due to the delicate feline trachea and is a well-documented cause of Veterinary Defence Society claims.This article examines the anatomy and physiology of the trachea and considers why it is susceptible to trauma relating to cuffed ET intubation. It explores current research into tracheal trauma and the findings relating to the cause of injury and suggests specific practical techniques which can minimize the potential damage to the trachea as a result of cuffed ET intubation. These include the choice of ET tubes, the mode of inflation, precautions that can be taken while moving the animal and intra-operative monitoring.It concludes that there are relatively simple ways in which the likelihood of such iatrogenic tracheal trauma can be minimized.
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