Clinical findings, diagnostic test results, and treatment outcome in cats with hiatal hernia: 31 cases (1995-2018)

Heidi Phillips, Jessica Corrie, Danielle M Engel, Daniel J Duffy, David E Holt, Allison R Kendall, Chad W Schmiedt, Autumn Vetter, Ilyssa L Meren, Christelle Follette, David J Schaeffer, Philipp D Mayhew, Stanley L Marks
Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 2019, 33 (5): 1970-1976

BACKGROUND: Information regarding clinical signs, assessment, treatment, and outcome in cats with hiatal hernia (HH) is limited.

OBJECTIVES: To characterize the clinical presentation of HH and medical and surgical outcomes in a cohort of affected cats.

ANIMALS: Thirty-one client-owned cats with HH.

METHODS: Medical records of cats with HH were retrospectively reviewed for signalment, history, results of diagnostic tests, details of surgical and medical treatments, complications, and outcome. Long-term follow-up data were obtained by telephone communication. Relationships between clinical variables and outcome were evaluated by regression analysis.

RESULTS: Type I HH was present in 85.7% (24/28) of cats, and 64.5% (20/31) were >3 years of age at diagnosis. Twenty-one of 31 (67.7%) cats underwent surgical repair including phrenoplasty, esophagopexy, and left-sided gastropexy, and 10 of 31 cats were treated medically without surgery. Concurrent illness was common, and 77.4% cats had comorbidities. All cats survived to discharge, and median time to death or follow-up was 959 days (range, 3-4015 days). Cats treated medically survived longer than cats treated surgically, with median time to death or follow-up of 2559 and 771 days, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL IMPORTANCE: Type I HH is the most common type of HH in cats. A congenital etiology is possible, but many cats with HH were >3 years of age at diagnosis and suffered from comorbidities, including upper airway obstruction. Case selection and the presence of comorbidities likely influenced the outcome. Cats with HH may not be diagnosed until disease is advanced or concurrent illness draws attention to clinical signs.

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