BACKGROUND: Tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF) in dogs is a rare disease with only few reports in the literature. This report aims to contribute to the current literature on suitable diagnostic methods for TEF and to provide follow-up information after successful surgical treatment.
CASE PRESENTATION: A seven-month-old intact female Spanish Water Dog was presented for further investigation of recurrent respiratory symptom. Bronchoscopy revealed a small hole-like defect in the tracheal wall at the bifurcation. The finding of the contrast material swallow study under fluoroscopy was indicative of a TEF. To further evaluate the connection between the trachea and esophagus, a computed tomography scan was performed. The TEF was surgically approached by thoracotomy through the right lateral sixth intercostal space. The fistula was identified, double ligated and divided. Histopathology confirmed the process to originate from the esophagus and to be patent. The dog was re-examined two weeks and ten months after surgery, with no evidence of recurring clinical signs.
CONCLUSIONS: Contrast material swallow study using fluoroscopy was the most reliable diagnostic method. Bronchoscopy may allow the fistula to be visualized, but due to a small fistular opening it can lead to a false negative result. Surgical correction by ligation and dividing of the fistula suggests a good prognosis for early diagnosed and operated TEF.