The effects of necrotic laryngitis on the mechanics of breathing and gas exchange were investigated in five Belgian blue double muscled calves two to three months old. All the animals showed the typical clinical picture of the respiratory syndrome associated with naturally occurring necrotic laryngitis. Highly significant increases in total pulmonary resistance, minute viscous work of breathing and alveolar-arterial oxygen gradient, and highly significant decreases in dynamic lung compliance and arterial oxygen tension were recorded in the infected animals, when compared to reference values for healthy cattle. The ratio of inspiratory to expiratory viscous work of breathing was also significantly increased probably because of a partial collapse of the extrathoracic trachea during inspiration. It was concluded that necrotic laryngitis disturbs pulmonary function to such an extent that it impedes the growing process and predisposes the infected animals to secondary bronchopneumonia and ventilatory failure due to respiratory muscle fatigue.
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