Objective—To determine variations in cytologic counts of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid attributable to month of collection, first and second aliquots, and left and right lung sites in horses with recurrent airway obstruction (RAO).
Animals—5 horses with RAO and 5 healthy horses without respiratory tract disease.
Procedures—Horses were housed in a stable for 5 months prior to and throughout the study. Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid was collected from the right and left lung of each horse 3 times at monthly intervals (February, March, and April). Each BAL fluid collection was performed by use of 2 incremental instillations of 250 mL of isotonic saline (0.9% NaCl) solution in the same bronchial site. Analysis of BAL fluid included volume of BAL fluid recovered, a CBC, and differential cytologic counts.
Results—Volume of BAL fluid recovered and cytologic counts did not differ in horses with RAO across time or between right and left lungs, except for the number of mast cells. Horses with RAO had significantly lower volumes of BAL fluid recovered, significantly lower percentages of macrophages and lymphocytes, and significantly higher percentages of neutrophils than did healthy horses. Despite individual variation, all horses with RAO had > 25% neutrophils throughout the study period.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Despite variation among horses, BAL fluid cytologic counts were repeatable over short and long periods and samples can be used for longitudinal studies as a diagnostic tool of pulmonary inflammation in horses with RAO.