Transtracheal wash

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  • Placing a catheter through the trachea or larynx (entry point at the cricothyroid ligament) allows collection of diagnostic samples from the lower respiratory tract.



  • Simple procedure.
  • Does not require general anesthesia in some cases therefore avoids risk of anesthesia in animals with respiratory compromise.
  • Avoids oropharyngeal sample contamination.
    Oxygen may be administered by facemask during procedure in severely compromised animals.


  • Sampling is usually blind. Material can be sampled more accurately with endoscopic guidance and this gives better results than blind sampling.
  • More risk of sample contamination from upper respiratory tract, ie trachea, than with bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL).


Materials required

Minimum consumables

  • Long flexible intravenous catheter through the needle (14-16 gauge).
    Premeasure catheter from point of insertion to position of carina before insertion.
  • 5 ml syringe.
  • Sample collection tubes.
  • Local anesthetic.
  • Scalpel blade.


  • 10 minutes.


Reasons for treatment failure

  • Little or no material may be retrieved despite multiple flushings.
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