Temporary tracheotomy in a cow secondary to the inadvertent administration of an intratracheal magnet

  • Cecilia Tolasi studio veterinario armigio
Keywords: tracheotomy, intratracheal magnet, cow


The need for diagnosis and surgical treatment of respiratory disease in cattle is not common. However, several disorders are well documented and are most expediently addressed with surgical therapy. Life-threatening situations are more frequent in referral centers following surgery of the upper airways, but in a field situation thorough physical examination we can often determine an accurate diagnosis, which improves the success rate of the treatment. This case report describes the surgical treatment of an airflow obstruction due to the inadvertent administration of a magnet into a primiparous Holstein cow’s trachea after an incorrect procedure during a routinely administration of magnets as a preventive procedure against reticulum-peritonitis.

The cow was presented with an increased heart and respiratory rate, but still alert and able to stand alone, signs that has led to perform a tracheotomy to remove the magnet and restore the normal airflow. As a field situation, without the possibility to perform an X-ray or an endoscopy to locate the magnet, palpation of the ventral neck area permitted to feel an enlarged trachea in its cervical portion.

With the animal left side laying and the neck stretched in order to facilitate the surgery:  it was performed a 10 cm vertical incision centered at the junction of the proximal and middle thirds of the palpable trachea through skin to the muscles. As the trachea was exposed the annular ligament between two tracheal rings was sharply incised, making sure not to cut more than 50% of the diameter of the trachea. After the removal of the magnet the trachea was closed with a single knot tension suture and the surgery site in layers (muscle and skin independently).

Daily production as well as rumination time have been monitored for 30 days after the surgery, showing a constantly improvement of the animal.