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Comparisons of overground endoscopy and treadmill endoscopy in UK Thoroughbred racehorses

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Summary

Reasons for performing study: To date there is no information on the comparison of the more recently documented technique of performing endoscopy during ridden exercise in the field, with the more traditional method of endoscopy during high-speed treadmill exercise.

Objectives: To compare the results of upper respiratory tract endoscopy in UK Thoroughbred racehorses performed during ridden exercise in the field with those obtained during exercise on the treadmill.

Methods: A direct comparison was undertaken in 4 horses whereby both procedures were performed in the same horse within 10 days of each other. An indirect comparison was also undertaken whereby the results of overground endoscopy performed in 50 racehorses was compared to the results obtained during treadmill endoscopy in a further 50 racehorses. Horses were matched for age, gender, use (National Hunt vs. Flat) and presenting complaint (abnormal respiratory noise vs. poor performance).

Results: Dorsal displacement of the soft palate was diagnosed less frequently during overground endoscopy than during treadmill endoscopy. There was no significant difference in the diagnosis of dynamic laryngeal collapse between the 2 techniques. The treadmill exercise test was performed over longer distances at higher inclines, albeit at lower speeds than the overground test. In contrast to the treadmill test, the overground test was frequently performed in intervals.

Conclusions: The results of both the direct and indirect comparisons suggest that dorsal displacement of the soft palate is diagnosed less often during overground endoscopy than during treadmill endoscopy. Strenuous exercise tests may be more easily performed on a treadmill than by performing multiple exercise intervals in the field.

Potential relevance: Care should be taken in interpreting negative findings during both procedures, but particularly during overground endoscopy if racing conditions have not been appropriately replicated.

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