It is not known if pulmonary function and gas exchange during exercise are altered after pyogranulomatous pneumonia caused by Rhodococcus equi infection in the foal. The aim was to evaluate whether pulmonary gas exchange during high intensity exercise was altered in mature Standardbreds with a history of R. equi pneumonia as foals. In 7 foals, R. equi pneumonia was confirmed and treated. At age 3 years, when these horses were subjected to professional training, an inclined treadmill exercise test including 4 speeds was performed. Samples were collected when a steady state in V̇O2 was obtained. Red cell volume, heart rate, respiratory rate, and systemic and pulmonary mean arterial pressures were measured and cardiac output calculated. Oxygen and carbon dioxide tensions in arterial and mixed venous blood were analysed. The alveolar ventilation and the alveolar-arterial oxygen tension difference were determined. Pulmonary gas exchange was assessed and the ventilation-perfusion distribution, VA/Q, was estimated by the multiple inert gas elimination technique. Ventilation-perfusion mismatch and shunt were determined and diffusion limitation calculated. The gas exchange in Standardbred trotters previously infected with R. equi and successfully treated was not compromised during intense treadmill exercise compared with reference values for healthy, fit Standardbreds.
We conclude that adult Standardbreds trotters with diagnosed R. equi pneumonia as foals, can achieve an adequate gas exchange at a workload close to V̇O2peak.