Tools of the trade: AirLife humidifier (for intra-tracheal oxygen delivery)

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Daniel_airline-humidifier300Review by Dr Justin Daniel, Pambula Vet Clinic, Pambula, NSW

We use the humidifier attached to a regulator and flow meter on an oxygen bottle to deliver concentrated, humidified oxygen via a 14-gauge intra-tracheal catheter. We mostly use this to treat severe cases of tick paralysis in dogs where there is cardiovascular compromise. We’ve been using this technique for the past five or six years.

What’s good about it

It allows us to deliver extra oxygen directly into the trachea without causing stress involved when threading catheters through the nose. Also if there’s laryngeal dysfunction secondary to the tick paralysis, it bypasses this partial airway obstruction. If a dog is having trouble maintaining its blood oxygen concentration because its heart and lungs are compromised by the tick toxin, it often gets frightened and starts to panic. This elevates the heart and respiration rates which increases the dog’s oxygen requirements. A vicious circle of panic and lack of oxygenation is created. If you can still the panic with sedatives and deliver a more concentrated form of oxygen then you can take some stress off the heart and lungs. Being humidified means the oxygen is more readily taken up by the lungs. Once the panic’s under control, low doses of isoflurane mixed with the oxygen allow a calming effect that can be a great alternative to a full anaesthetic or periodic top-ups in sedatives. We’ve used this technique successfully on cats too.

What’s not so good

It does require a general anaesthetic to place the tracheal catheter. All tubular joins need to be super glued and the catheter sutured in and taped, otherwise a dog may scratch out or disconnect the attachments.

Where did you get it

This humidifier is actually made for human use and was a special order from Provet (www.provet.com.au).

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