Throat Studies

A pair of recent studies conducted by researchers in New York, Ireland, and Australia have provided new information about the equine throat. Articles about both research projects appeared in the May 2003 issue of the Equine Veterinary Journal.

In New York, scientists at Cornell University looked at dorsal displacement of the soft palate (DDSP), which interferes with breathing in horses. The exact cause of the condition has not been identified, but their work suggests the function of the thyrohyoid muscles could play an important role.

The researchers exercised 10 horses on a high-speed treadmill, and examined them using videoendoscopy. None showed signs of DDSP in two separate trials. After the thyrohyoid muscles were disabled surgically, seven of the 10 developed DDSP.

A sham treatment (in which no polyester sutures were placed) performed was not successful in four of six horses. These four and two others received surgery to correct the function of the muscle. This surgery proved successful as a correction for DDSP in five out of six horses.

The DDSP induced by disabling the thyrohyoid muscles was clinically identical to the naturally occurring condition, according to the scientists. However, they did not show in their work whether the dysfunction of those muscles occurs naturally in DDSP. There is also no published information suggesting that such dysfunction is associated with DDSP.

Mucosal Ulcers

The study conducted by scientists at the Randwick Equine Centre in Australia and the University College Dublin in Ireland focused on mucosal ulcers on the arytenoid cartilages (in the throat) of Thoroughbred sale yearlings. When the researchers studied the findings of post-sale endoscopic examinations that were conducted on 3,312 horses at 13 sales in Australia, they discovered ulcers were more common than other abnormalities. Twenty-one horses (0.63%) had ulcers on the arytenoid cartilages. Since the scientists also found that 15% of the ulcers developed into more serious problems such as granuloma or chondropathy, they concluded that buyers and sale company officials should be notified when ulcers are found on the arytenoids.

"Medical therapy of affected horses should be considered and follow-up endoscopic examination performed" to determine if the lesions have healed, the scientists wrote.

About the Author

Deirdre Biles

Deirdre Biles is the Bloodstock Sales Editor for The Blood-Horse magazine.

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