Objective of the present retrospective study was to describe the clinical, ultrasonographic, radiographic and endoscopic findings and outcome of 16 cattle with retropharyngeal abscess. Results: The most common clinical findings were stertorous respiratory sounds (n = 14), swelling of the cranial neck (n = 11), dyspnoea (n = 9) and coughing (n = 7). In all of the animals ultrasonography revealed a circular structure with an echogenic content that had the characteristic appearance of an abscess. Radiography showed a soft tissue shadow dorsally in the pharynx in all patients and gas inclusions in eight cattle. Endoscopy of 15 patients revealed a swelling in the dorsal aspect of the pharynx in 13 animals and a fistulous tract in three cattle. Three animals were slaughtered at the request of the owner because of concurrent disease.
Thirteen animals were treated: nine animals underwent an operation and four received conservative medical treatment. Twelve of these 13 patients were healthy at a follow-up via telephone a minimum of 10 months post-treatment.
Conclusion and clinical relevance: The fact that all successfully treated patients were still healthy a minimum of 10 months later emphasises the importance of a thorough diagnostic work-up for ensuring a good outcome. A good prognosis relies on early and correct diagnosis of the problem.