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Department of Veterinary Medicine

Cambridge Veterinary School

Studying at Cambridge



Liu N-C, Adams VJ, Kalmar L, Ladlow JF, Sargan DR (2016). "Whole-body barometric plethysmography characterizes upper airway obstructions in 3 brachycephalic breeds of dogs." Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 30(3): 853-865

Background: A novel test using whole-body barometric plethysmography (WBBP) recently was developed to diagnose brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) in unsedated French bulldogs.

Hypothesis/objectives: The hypotheses of our study were 1) Respiratory characteristics are different between healthy non-brachycephalic dogs and brachycephalic dogs; and among pugs, French bulldogs, and bulldogs; and 2) obesity and stenotic nares are risk factors for BOAS. The main objective was to establish a diagnostic test for BOAS in these 3 breeds.

Animals: A total of 266 brachycephalic dogs (100 pugs, 100 French bulldogs, and 66 bulldogs) and 28 non-brachycephalic dogs.

Methods: Prospective study. Exercise tolerance tests with respiratory functional grading, and WBBP were performed on all dogs. Data from WBBP were associated with functional grades to train quadratic discriminant analysis tools to assign dogs to BOAS+ and BOAS- groups. A BOAS index (0-100%) was calculated for each dog. Receiver operating characteristic curves were used to evaluate classification ability.

Results: Minute volume was decreased significantly in asymptomatic pugs (p=0.009), French bulldogs (p=0.026), and bulldogs (p<0.0001) when compared to non-brachycephalic controls. Respiratory characteristics were different among breeds and affected dogs had a significant increase in trace variation. The BOAS index predicted BOAS status for each breed with 94-97% (95% confidence interval [CI], 88.9-100%) accuracy (area under the receiver operator characteristic [ROC] curve). Both obesity (p=0.04) and stenotic nares (p=0.004) were significantly associated with BOAS.

Conclusions and clinical importance:  The WBBP can be used as a clinical tool to diagnose BOAS non-invasively and objectively.  


Liu N-C, Sargan DR, Adams VJ, Ladlow JF (2015). "Characterisation of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome in French Bulldogs Using Whole-Body Barometric Plethysmography." PLoS One 10(6): e0130741.

Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) is an important health and welfare problem in several popular dog breeds. Whole-body barometric plethysmography (WBBP) is a non-invasive method that allows safe and repeated quantitative measurements of respiratory cycles on unsedated dogs. Here respiratory flow traces in French bulldogs from the pet population were characterised using WBBP, and a computational application was developed to recognise affected animals. Eighty-nine French bulldogs and twenty non-brachycephalic controls underwent WBBP testing. A respiratory functional grading system was used on each dog based on respiratory signs (i.e. respiratory noise, effort, etc.) before and after exercise. For development of an objective BOAS classifier, functional Grades 0 and I were considered to have insignificant clinical signs (termed here BOAS-) and Grades II and III to have significant signs (termed here BOAS+). A comparison between owner-perception of BOAS and functional grading revealed that 60 % of owners failed to recognise BOAS in dogs that graded BOAS+ in this study.WBBP flow traces were found to be significantly different between non-brachycephalic controls and Grade 0 French bulldogs; BOAS- and BOAS+ French bulldogs. A classifier was developed using quadratic discriminant analysis of the respiratory parameters to distinguish BOAS- and BOAS + French bulldogs, and a BOAS Index was calculated for each dog. A cut-off value of the BOAS Index was selected based on a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve. Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of the classifier on the training group (n=69) were 0.97, 0.93, 0.95, and 0.97, respectively. The classifier was validated using a test group of French bulldogs (n=20) with an accuracy of 0.95. WBBP offers objective screening for the diagnosis of BOAS in French Bulldogs. The technique may be applied to other brachycephalic breeds affected by BOAS, and possibly to other respiratory disease in dogs.