Tracheal stenting is a procedure to improve airflow in patients suffering from severe tracheal collapse that has not responded to medical management. Tracheal collapse is a chronic, progressive, and irreversible condition involving the trachea and often the lower airways (bronchi). The cartilage of the airways becomes weakened and collapses leading to severe respiratory compromise. Patients with tracheal collapse have problems breathing due to the narrowing of the airways. This condition is common in small breed dogs. Yorkshire terriers, Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, and Toy Poodles are commonly affected.

Print Version

Why it’s done

Your veterinarian may recommend tracheal stenting if your pet has:

  • A progressive harsh “honking” cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Coughing or turning blue when excited
  • Fainting

How to prepare for your pet’s procedure

Before your pet’s procedure, you will meet with one of our specialists to talk about the procedure and what to expect.

When you meet with our team, please bring a list of all medications that your pet is currently taking, including over the counter medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Before your pet’s procedure, you may be asked to discontinue giving certain medications that can increase the risk of bleeding.

This is a good time to ask questions about the procedure and make sure you understand the risks and benefits.

Preoperative diagnostics and tests

Before your pet’s tracheal stenting the following may be indicated:

  • Comprehensive blood panel
  • Radiographs (x-rays)
  • Fluoroscopy (moving x-ray) to document the location and severity of the collapse

General Instructions for the Day of Surgery

  • Give your pet nothing by mouth after midnight the night before. This means that all food and water should be withheld.
  • Please arrive for pet’s admission promptly at your scheduled arrival time.
  • You will be asked to sign both an Anesthetic Consent Form as well as an Estimate, indicating your understanding of the procedure, risks, and associated costs.

What happens during a tracheal stenting procedure?

Your pet will be given a general anesthetic. Fluoroscopy will be used to visualize the location of the collapse. Measurements are performed to ensure a proper fit. The stent is passed directly through the mouth and into the trachea and is released in the area of the collapse. The stent holds the narrowed area open allowing air to flow more freely.


The placement of a tracheal stent is a salvage procedure for patients with such severe signs that it greatly impacts their quality of life. Patients may experience both immediate and delayed complications as a result of the procedure. Complications associated with tracheal stenting can include the following:

  • Increased risk for respiratory infections, both immediate and lifetime
  • Worsening of cough
  • Stent fracture
  • Stent migration
  • Excessive scar tissue development

After the procedure

  • Following the procedure, you will be given a phone call with an update on your pet’s recovery. A scheduled discharge will be coordinated at that time.
  • Please remove the bandage from your pet’s intravenous catheter site 10 to 15 minutes after arriving home.
  • Many patients will not eat the night following anesthesia. If your pet has not eaten after 24 hours of returning home, please call Salt River.
  • Some patients will vomit or have diarrhea following anesthesia. If the vomiting or diarrhea persists more than 24 hours, please call Salt River. In contrast, some patients may be constipated or may not have a bowel movement for up to 72 hours following anesthesia. If your pet is straining to defecate after 72 hours, please call Salt River.
  • Many patients will cough more frequently and potentially more severely in the first 4-8 weeks after placement of the stent. In most patients, the cough improves as the tissue heals. Some patients may experience a permanent worsening of the cough following the procedure for unforeseen reasons.
  • Most patients will still require lifelong medications to manage their collapsing trachea, despite placement of the stent. You will be given medication discharge instructions detailing the medical management plan for your pet, following stent placement.

Follow up

A recheck examination is required 10 days following the procedure.