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Epiglottic abnormalities in mature nonracehorses: 23 cases (1990–2009)

Maia R. Aitken DVM1 and Eric J. Parente DVM, DACVS2
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  • 1 Department of Clinical Studies, New Bolton Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348.
  • | 2 Department of Clinical Studies, New Bolton Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348.

Abstract

Objective—To identify history, clinical signs, endoscopic findings, treatment, and outcome of mature (> 8 years old) nonracehorses with epiglottic abnormalities.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—23 horses with an epiglottic abnormality.

Procedures—Medical records of horses examined between 1990 and 2009 because of an epiglottic abnormality were reviewed to obtain information on signalment, history, clinical signs, clinical examination findings, upper airway endoscopic findings, diagnosis, surgical procedure, clinical management, postoperative care, and outcome.

Results—Mean ± SD age was 16 ± 6 years (range, 9 to 30 years). Sixteen of the 23 (70%) horses had a primary complaint of a chronic cough. Thirteen (57%) horses had epiglottic entrapment, 7 (30%) had a subepiglottic granuloma, and 3 (13%) had a subepiglottic cyst. All 23 horses were treated surgically, with 1 (4%) requiring further surgical treatment. Follow-up examinations and conversations with owners indicated resolution of the primary complaint in 17 of the 23 (74%) horses, with 4 (24%) requiring prolonged medical treatment because of postoperative subepiglottic inflammation. Of the 6 horses without complete resolution, 4 (67%) had signs of recurrent airway obstruction and 2 (33%) developed persistent dorsal displacement of the soft palate following laryngotomy and subepiglottic membrane resection.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that coughing is a common complaint in mature nonracehorses with epiglottic abnormalities. Therefore, upper airway endoscopy is recommended in the evaluation of older horses with a cough. Surgical treatment can be beneficial in most horses, with some requiring further postoperative medical treatment.

Contributor Notes

The authors thank Dr. Helen Aceto for assistance with the statistical analysis.

Address correspondence to Dr. Parente (ejp@vet.upenn.edu).