ULTRASONOGRAPHIC ASSESSMENT OF LARYNGOHYOID POSITION AS A PREDICTOR OF DORSAL DISPLACEMENT OF THE SOFT PALATE IN HORSES

Authors


  • Partially supported by the American College of Veterinary Radiology and Veterinary Ultrasound Society 2005 Resident Research Award.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Heather J. Chalmers, Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada N1G 2W1. E-mail: hchalmer@uoguelph.ca

Abstract

Dorsal displacement of the soft palate is an important cause of poor performance in racehorses, yet its etiology is not fully understood. Diagnosis requires treadmill videoendoscopy, which is not widely available. The relationship of the larynx, the hyoid apparatus, and the remainder of the skull may be important in predisposing horses to dorsal displacement of the soft palate. We hypothesized that this relationship could be accurately assessed in unsedated horses through ultrasonographic examination. Fifty-six racehorses presented for evaluation of poor performance were subjected to treadmill videoendoscopy and resting ultrasonography. Using ultrasound-assisted percutaneous measures of laryngo-hyoid position, the relationship between selected anatomic structures and the occurrence of dorsal displacement of the soft palate was evaluated. A significant relationship was found between the depth of the basihyoid bone at rest and the occurrence of dorsal displacement of the soft palate at exercise (P=0.03). Other measures of laryngohyoid position were not found to be associated with dorsal displacement of the soft palate. Thus, there is an association between the occurrence of dorsal displacement of the soft palate at exercise and the resting position of the basihyoid bone, whereby on average a more ventral location of the basihyoid bone is present in horses with dorsal displacement of the soft palate. The pathophysiologic implications of this finding are not fully understood but, based on our findings, ultrasound examination is of value in assisting in the diagnosis of dorsal displacement of the soft palate.

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