Objective— To evaluate the effect ventriculocordectomy (VC) for treatment of recurrent laryngeal neuropathy (RLN) on exercise performance and owner satisfaction in a mixed-breed population of horses.
Study Design— Retrospective study.
Animals— Adult horses (n=92) with a history of abnormal respiratory noise and RLN.
Methods— Retrospective analysis of horse that had unilateral VC (and contralateral ventriculectomy in 63 horses) for treatment of idiopathic RLN. Owners/trainers completed a questionnaire about complications and outcome at least 1 year after surgery. Performance index was determined using race records for previously raced Thoroughbreds to evaluate outcome.
Results— Clinical signs included abnormal exercise-induced respiratory noises (noises; 52%), poor performance (11%), and noises and poor performance (37%). The median preoperative resting endoscopic grade of laryngeal function was Havemeyer grade III.1 (mild asymmetry). No discharge from the laryngotomy 1 week postoperatively occurred in 62% horses, 22% coughed after surgery, 66% made no noises, 9% continued to make noises at the canter, 21% made noise at the gallop, and 4% of owners were unsure whether noises were present. Ninety-three percent of horses returned to full work after surgery. Overall, 86% of owners considered the surgery worthwhile, 3% did not consider it worthwhile, and 11% were unsure. Surgery had a significantly beneficial effect on the racing performance index in Thoroughbreds (P=.004).
Conclusions— VC is a useful alternative to laryngoplasty for selected cases of RLN and is associated with a positive effect on exercise performance, a low postoperative complication rate, and a high rate of owner satisfaction
Clinical Relevance— Unilateral VC should be considered as a sole treatment in horses with low grades of RLN.