Evaluation of survival rate and athletic ability after nonsurgical or surgical treatment of cleft palate in horses: 55 cases (1986–2008)

Shannon J. Murray Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.

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Yvonne A. Elce Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.

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J. Brett Woodie Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, 2150 Georgetown Rd, Lexington, KY 40511.

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Rolf M. Embertson Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, 2150 Georgetown Rd, Lexington, KY 40511.

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James T. Robertson Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.

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Warren L. Beard Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.

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Abstract

Objective—To determine survival rate and athletic ability after nonsurgical or surgical treatment of cleft palate in horses.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—55 horses with cleft palate.

Procedures—13 of the 55 horses died or were euthanized without treatment and were not included in all analyses. Medical records were reviewed for signalment, history, method of diagnosis, soft or hard palate involvement, type of surgical procedure performed, postoperative complications, and survival to hospital discharge. Information on athletic ability was acquired from race records and follow-up conversations with owners, trainers, or referring veterinarians.

Results—The predominant reason for initial evaluation was milk or feed in the nostrils (60%). The diagnosis was confirmed by means of videoendoscopy of the upper portion of the airway in all cases. Most cases involved the soft palate only (92.7%). Twenty-six of the 55 (47.3%) horses underwent surgical repair, and 12 of these had dehiscence at the caudal edge of the soft palate. Among potential racehorses, 14 of 33 had surgery. Of these, 12 of 14 survived to discharge and 2 horses raced. Among potential racehorses, 10 of 33 were discharged without surgery and 2 of these raced. Among nonracehorses, 12 of 22 underwent surgery and 11 survived to discharge. All horses that were discharged and for which follow-up information was available survived to 2 years of age or older without ill thrift despite dehiscence at the caudal edge of the soft palate and continued mild nasal discharge.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Horses with cleft palate had a higher survival rate than previously reported.

Abstract

Objective—To determine survival rate and athletic ability after nonsurgical or surgical treatment of cleft palate in horses.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—55 horses with cleft palate.

Procedures—13 of the 55 horses died or were euthanized without treatment and were not included in all analyses. Medical records were reviewed for signalment, history, method of diagnosis, soft or hard palate involvement, type of surgical procedure performed, postoperative complications, and survival to hospital discharge. Information on athletic ability was acquired from race records and follow-up conversations with owners, trainers, or referring veterinarians.

Results—The predominant reason for initial evaluation was milk or feed in the nostrils (60%). The diagnosis was confirmed by means of videoendoscopy of the upper portion of the airway in all cases. Most cases involved the soft palate only (92.7%). Twenty-six of the 55 (47.3%) horses underwent surgical repair, and 12 of these had dehiscence at the caudal edge of the soft palate. Among potential racehorses, 14 of 33 had surgery. Of these, 12 of 14 survived to discharge and 2 horses raced. Among potential racehorses, 10 of 33 were discharged without surgery and 2 of these raced. Among nonracehorses, 12 of 22 underwent surgery and 11 survived to discharge. All horses that were discharged and for which follow-up information was available survived to 2 years of age or older without ill thrift despite dehiscence at the caudal edge of the soft palate and continued mild nasal discharge.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Horses with cleft palate had a higher survival rate than previously reported.

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