Reasons for performing study: Although well documented in racehorses, there is paucity in the literature regarding the prevalence of dynamic upper airway abnormalities in nonracing performance horses.
Objective: To describe upper airway function of nonracing performance horses with abnormal respiratory noise and/or poor performance via exercising upper airway videoendoscopy.
Methods: Medical records of nonracing performance horses admitted for exercising evaluation with a chief complaint of abnormal respiratory noise and/or poor performance were reviewed. All horses had video recordings of resting and exercising upper airway endoscopy. Relationships between horse demographics, resting endoscopic findings, treadmill intensity and implementation of head and neck flexion during exercise with exercising endoscopic findings were examined.
Results: Dynamic upper airway obstructions were observed in 72% of examinations. Head and neck flexion was necessary to obtain a diagnosis in 21 horses. Pharyngeal wall collapse was the most prevalent upper airway abnormality, observed in 31% of the examinations. Complex abnormalities were noted in 27% of the examinations. Resting laryngeal dysfunction was significantly associated with dynamic arytenoid collapse and the odds of detecting intermittent dorsal displacement of the soft palate (DDSP) during exercise in horses with resting DDSP was only 7.7%. Exercising endoscopic observations were different from the resting observations in 54% of examinations.
Conclusions: Dynamic upper airway obstructions were common in nonracing performance horses with respiratory noise and/or poor performance. Resting endoscopy was only helpful in determining exercising abnormalities with recurrent laryngeal neuropathy.
Potential relevance: This study emphasises the importance of exercising endoscopic evaluation in nonracing performance horses with abnormal respiratory noise and/or poor performance for accurate assessment of dynamic upper airway function.