Science & Equine

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Written by Marly Coppens

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Diagnosis of upper respiratory tract diseases in sporthorses

It is challenging to diagnose the right problem in sport horses with decreased athletic performance, since the symptoms can be very subtle. A lot of diseases can play a role in the poor performance horse and therefor extensive testing is needed. Respiratory diseases may be overseen, although this is very often the case in racehorses and a retrospective study of sport horses presented for poor performance identified respiratory disease disorders in 54 of 77 (70%) sport horses.

Examination of the upper respiratory tract involves:

Historical information

Physical examination

  • Palpation

Videoendoscopic examination

  • At rest (“slap test”, manual occlusion of nostrils)
    -> Identifying grade IV lyryngeal hemiplegia
  • During exercise (treadmill)
    - > Identifying grade II and III laryngeal hemiplegia and pharyngeal collapse and axial deviation of the arypicglottic folds
    - > Evaluation after laryngoplasty (surgery)

Radiographic evaluation

  • Sinus or nasal passage abnormalities

Other methods

  • Undirectional microphone
  • Breathing flow-volume loops
  • Upper airway pressure measurements
  • Airflow mechanics

























> From: Davidson et al., Vet Clin Equine 19 (2003) Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved to 51-62. Click here for the online summary.

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