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Keywords:

  • horse;
  • upper respiratory tract;
  • wireless endoscopy;
  • dynamic respiratory endoscopy;
  • exercising endoscopy

Summary

Reasons for performing study: High speed treadmill endoscopy provides a true assessment and diagnosis of the dynamic obstructions of the upper equine respiratory tract (DO-URT). However, treadmills do not always allow reproduction of the exact conditions of dynamic collapse of the URT. The availability of on-board endoscopes, which could be used without a treadmill, would make exercising endoscopy readily available to more equine practices.

Objectives: To develop and validate an innovative endoscope which could be used for the examination of the URT at exercise in ridden and harnessed sport horses performing in natural conditions.

Methods: Authors worked closely with engineers of a company manufacturing veterinary endoscopes. Over a 2-year period several prototypes were tested on more than 20 cooperative horses performing either in trot, gallop, jumping or endurance. The final Dynamic Respiratory Scope (DRS) allows real-time visualisation of the URT and video recordings for post test reviewing and archiving. The DRS was then tested in 2 equine livery yards. Performance horses presented for investigation of abnormal respiratory noises at exercise and/or poor performance were subjected to exercising endoscopy. Endoscopic images of the URT were recorded and video recordings of the URT were reviewed post test.

Results: A total of 68 horses were examined: 39 harnessed Standardbred and 29 mounted horses (16 Thoroughbred and 13 saddle horses). Of these, 44 were diagnosed with a URT abnormality. Good quality videos were obtained even at maximum speed in all cases. The innovative insertion tube provided very stable images compared to those obtained with flexible video endoscopes on treadmills.

Conclusions: This study validates the safety and the reliability of the DRS for imaging the equine URT during natural exercising conditions.

Potential relevance: Most common causes of DO-URT can be diagnosed easily during any type of performance without a treadmill and the DRS offers a great potential for further URT clinical research.