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Persistent dorsal displacement of the soft palate attributable to a frenulum of the epiglottis in a racing Thoroughbred

Valerie J. Moorman DVM1, John F. Marshall DVM2, and Henry W. Jann DVM, MS, DACVS3
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  • 1 Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.
  • | 2 Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.
  • | 3 Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.

Abstract

Case Description—A 7-year-old sexually intact male Thoroughbred racehorse was evaluated because of exercise intolerance, respiratory tract noise, and coughing when eating.

Clinical Findings—A persistent dorsal displacement of the soft palate was identified during endoscopic examination of the upper portions of the respiratory tract. Radiography of the pharyngeal and laryngeal regions revealed a hypoplastic epiglottis that was ventral to, and not in contact with, the soft palate. The horse was anesthetized, and an oral endoscopic examination revealed a subepiglottic frenulum that had resulted in the dorsal displacement of the soft palate.

Treatment and Outcome—The frenulum was transected transendoscopically by use of a diode laser. Twenty-four hours following surgery, repeat endoscopic and radiographic examinations revealed that the epiglottis had returned to its correct anatomic position in relation to the soft palate. Four weeks after surgery, endoscopy of the upper portions of the airway revealed recurrence of the dorsal displacement of the soft palate.

Clinical Relevance—A subepiglottic frenulum should be considered as a cause of persistent dorsal displacement of the soft palate in horses. An endoscopic examination of the oropharyngeal region should be performed in horses prior to undertaking any surgical interventions to treat persistent dorsal displacement of the soft palate.

Abstract

Case Description—A 7-year-old sexually intact male Thoroughbred racehorse was evaluated because of exercise intolerance, respiratory tract noise, and coughing when eating.

Clinical Findings—A persistent dorsal displacement of the soft palate was identified during endoscopic examination of the upper portions of the respiratory tract. Radiography of the pharyngeal and laryngeal regions revealed a hypoplastic epiglottis that was ventral to, and not in contact with, the soft palate. The horse was anesthetized, and an oral endoscopic examination revealed a subepiglottic frenulum that had resulted in the dorsal displacement of the soft palate.

Treatment and Outcome—The frenulum was transected transendoscopically by use of a diode laser. Twenty-four hours following surgery, repeat endoscopic and radiographic examinations revealed that the epiglottis had returned to its correct anatomic position in relation to the soft palate. Four weeks after surgery, endoscopy of the upper portions of the airway revealed recurrence of the dorsal displacement of the soft palate.

Clinical Relevance—A subepiglottic frenulum should be considered as a cause of persistent dorsal displacement of the soft palate in horses. An endoscopic examination of the oropharyngeal region should be performed in horses prior to undertaking any surgical interventions to treat persistent dorsal displacement of the soft palate.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Moorman.