What are nasopharyngeal polyps?
A polyp is a benign mass, meaning that it is not malignant or “cancerous” and does not often metastasize (spread to other tissues). Nasopharyngeal polyps develop in the middle ear, which is the compartment just behind the eardrum. As the polyps enlarge, they grow down the Eustachian tube, the tube that connects the middle ear to back of the throat. As the polyps continue to expand, they may partially block the cavity at the back of the mouth.
What are the symptoms of nasopharyngeal polyps?
“…affected cats usually develop a distinctive snorting sound as they breathe.”
The main symptom of nasopharyngeal polyps involves breathing. The polyps obstruct the passage of air so affected cats usually develop a distinctive snorting sound as they breathe. Secondary bacterial infections can develop due to the blockage and accumulation of secretions. If this occurs, the cat develops nasal discharge and sneezing. The discharge may be clear or have some blood in it.
What causes nasopharyngeal polyps?
“We believe that this type of polyp is caused by inflammatory changes secondary to infection with a respiratory virus,” says James Flanders, DVM, associate professor of surgery at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “It might be a calicivirus, a herpesvirus, or any of the other types of viruses that cause sniffles in a young cat. The animal will be infected and will show the classic signs of upper respiratory distress. The signs will soon resolve, but some months later, the cat will start making this sneezing sort of noise and showing the other signs that a polyp has developed.”
What is the prognosis for a cat diagnosed with nasopharyngeal polyps?
“Most cats enjoy a relatively normal quality of life following standard de-bulking surgery.”
Most cats enjoy a relatively normal quality of life following standard de-bulking surgery. While recurrence rates are high, many cats have few complications after surgery. In recurrent or severe cases, referral to a board-certified veterinary surgeon may be advisable. Your veterinarian will develop a treatment strategy based on your pet’s individual needs.
This client information sheet is based on material written by: Ernest Ward, DVM