Video Endoscopy

Video Endoscopy

Respiratory conditions can seriously affect your horse’s health and performance.

In the past, diagnosis of many respiratory conditions simply were not possible, until the development of equine endoscopy, which allows visualisation of the horse’s respiratory system.

A powerful diagnostic tool, video endoscopy allows real-time frame-by-frame assessment of the upper airway and associated structures. Only with endoscopy can a veterinarian diagnose problematic respiratory conditions that can limit your horse’s potentiall

Horse endoscopy involves passing a tube, with a small camera on the end, along the trachea to examine the upper airway and associated structures.

The endoscope allows a veterinarian to visualise the horse’s respiratory system and make a diagnosis. Most often, endoscopy is used to diagnose respiratory diseases, such as pneumonia, guttural pouch infections and gastric ulcers.

Equine upper airway endoscopy is an examination of the horse’s upper respiratory tract and is a routine procedure that allows thorough examination of a horse’s nasal passages, pharynx, larynx, guttural pouches and trachea (windpipe). A video-endoscope developed its name as it allows the image on the eyepiece to be projected in real-time to a TV monitor, which allows observers to visualise what is being seen with the scope.

There are a number of reasons that your horse may require endoscopic examination. Some of these reasons include-

* Airway noise during rest or exercise

* Unexplained nasal discharge

* Bleeding from the nostrils

* Chronic cough

* Poor performance

* Noise production indicates turbulence of airflow through the horse’s nasal passages or larynx. Turbulence is usually the result of some type of obstructive lesion or the horse having a condition that causes obstruction of the larynx during exercise.

Nasal passage

The most common cause of bleeding from one nostril is the condition known as ethmoid hematoma (see fig 1) which is a locally invasive mass consisting of blood vessels that begins towards the back of the horse’s nasal passage. These can be treated with a good prognosis given if they are diagnosed early.

Pharynx and larynx

Typically, when a horse makes noise during exercise (or occasionally at rest), upper airway endoscopic examination can identify conditions that may be causing the noise or turbulence. Commonly identified conditions include-

* Laryngeal hemiplegia (roaring)

* Dorsal displacement of the soft palate (DDSP)

* Epiglottic entrapment

Laryngeal hemiplegia

This commonly affects the left side of the horse’s larynx and is caused by failure of normal function of the nerve that supplies that side of the larynx. Surgery is required and the type of surgery performed depends upon the use of the horse. The most common surgical technique in racehorses is the ‘tie-back’ procedure, which is successful in around 60-70% of cases to return them to their full athletic potential.

Dorsal Displacement of the Soft Palate (DDSP)

This is typically a dynamic obstruction which means that is usually occurs at high speed when the horse is galloping. For this reason, DDSP is commonly diagnosed once the other causes of obstruction have been ruled out. Newer endoscopic equipment has been developed that allows horses to be fitted with an endoscope that records a video of the horse’s throat during exercise. There are many surgical therapies available for DDSP of which the ‘tie-forward’ has been reported to be the most successful.

Epiglottic entrapment

This is a condition in which the epiglottis (triangular cartilage at the front of the larynx) becomes entrapped with surrounding folds of soft tissue. In some cases this condition does not affect the horse although constant movement and irritation of the tissues can lead to ulceration and thickening of the entrapping membrane, which can result in airway obstruction. For this reason, surgery is often recommended to treat the condition before it becomes problematic.

Guttural Pouch Endoscopy

The guttural pouches are unique to a small number of species, including the horse. The guttural pouches are expansions of the Eustachian tube and are theorized to help with brain cooling. Diagnosis of guttural pouch disorders often includes endoscopy of one or both pouches Diseases of the guttural pouches are not common, but can be life threatening and very difficult to treat. The guttural pouches are unique to a small number of animal species, including the horse. They are sacs of air that expand from the Eustachian tube, with one on each side of the horse’s head. They are positioned beneath the ear and each guttural pouch cavity in an adult horse can hold as much as a coffee mug. The guttural pouches are lined with a very thin membrane and beneath that membrane are some critical structures, such as major arteries to the head and some of the most important nerves in the body. Most of these nerves are cranial nerves, so when they are damaged, the resulting clinical signs relate to functions of the head. Examples would be problems with swallowing food and water, breathing, facial expression and head posture.

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