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Journal of the South African Veterinary Association

On-line version ISSN 2224-9435
Print version ISSN 1019-9128


MIRAZO, Javier E.; PAGE, Patrick; RUBIO-MARTINEZ, Luis  and  MARAIS, Hendrick J.. Dynamic upper respiratory abnormalities in Thoroughbred racehorses in South Africa. J. S. Afr. Vet. Assoc. [online]. 2014, vol.85, n.1, pp.01-06. ISSN 2224-9435.

Upper airway endoscopy at rest has been the diagnostic method of choice for equine upper respiratory tract (URT) conditions. Development of high-speed treadmill endoscopy improved the sensitivity of URT endoscopy by allowing observation of the horse's nasopharynx and larynx during exercise. However, treadmill exercise may not always accurately represent the horse's normal exercise as track surface, rider, tack and environmental variables are altered. Recently, the development of dynamic overground endoscopy (DOE) has addressed some of these shortcomings. A retrospective study was undertaken to describe the URT abnormalities detected during DOE in racehorses presenting with poor performance and/or abnormal respiratory noise. Patient records of Thoroughbred racehorses undergoing DOE from November 2011 to August 2012 were reviewed. Data collected included signalment, primary complaint, distance exercised, maximum speed and dynamic airway abnormalities detected. Fifty-two horses underwent DOE for investigation of poor performance and/or abnormal respiratory noise. The main abnormalities detected included axial deviation of the aryepiglottic folds (40%), vocal cord collapse (35%), abnormal arytenoid function (33%) and dorsal displacement of the soft palate (25%). A total of 40 horses were diagnosed with one or more abnormalities of the URT (77%). Fifteen horses (29%) had a single abnormality and 25 horses (48%) had multiple abnormalities. This study showed that DOE is a useful technique for investigating dynamic disorders of the URT in racehorses in South Africa. The total number and type of dynamic pathological conditions were comparable with those identified in similar populations in other geographical locations.

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