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  • Author or Editor: Céline Mespoulhès-Rivière x
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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association



Diagnosing equine grass sickness (EGS) requires histopathological evidence of chromatolysis and/or neuronal loss in peripheral autonomic ganglia. Previous investigators performed postmortem biopsies of gustatory papillae located on the tongue and found chromatolytic subgemmal neurons in all 13 EGS horses. The present study aimed to design a standardized lingual biopsy sampling method through a transbuccal approach in healthy standing horses and assess the quality of the obtained samples, to allow antemortem diagnosis of EGS in clinical cases.


6 healthy horses.


A transbuccal approach was performed bilaterally in 6 healthy standing horses. After having reached a deep level of sedation, horses were placed in stocks and a Günther mouth gag was inserted. Local anesthesia followed by a vertical full thickness incision was performed on both cheeks. Foliate papillae biopsies were carried out using an arthroscopic rongeur inserted through each incision site under oral endoscopic control. Tongue movements were restricted with diazepam. Histological assessment of taste buds and subgemmal plexi neurons was performed using H&E-stained longitudinal sections.


The procedure was well tolerated in all horses. Minor complications observed were a transient facial paralysis, some incisional fluid collection, and abscesses. Ten samples (10/12) were suitable for assessment of neuronal perikarya.


This procedure was safe for subgemmal plexus biopsy in healthy standing horses. The obtained samples were adequate as long as they were neatly cut lengthwise for inclusion. The technique was also used for 2 clinical cases and revealed the complete absence of neuronal perikarya, confirming chronic EGS.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


OBJECTIVE To develop and assess the feasibility, repeatability, and safety of an ultrasound-guided technique to stimulate the first cervical nerve (FCN) at the level of the alar foramen of the atlas of horses.

ANIMALS 4 equine cadavers and 6 clinically normal Standardbreds.

PROCEDURES In each cadaver, the FCN pathway was determined by dissection, and any anastomosis between the first and second cervical nerves was identified. Subsequently, each of 6 live horses underwent a bilateral ultrasound-guided stimulation of the FCN at the alar foramen 3 times at 3-week intervals. After each procedure, horses were examined daily for 5 days.

RESULTS In each cadaver, the FCN passed through the alar foramen; a communicating branch between the FCN and the accessory nerve and anastomoses between the ventral branches of the FCN and second cervical nerve were identified. The anastomoses were located in the upper third of the FCN pathway between the wing of the atlas and the nerve's entry in the omohyoideus muscle. Successful ultrasound-guided electrical stimulation was confirmed by twitching of the ipsilateral omohyoideus muscle in all 6 live horses; this finding was observed bilaterally during each of the 3 experimental sessions. No complications developed at the site of stimulation.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results indicated that ultrasound-guided stimulation of the FCN at the alar foramen appears to be a safe and straightforward procedure in horses. The procedure may have potential for use in horses with naturally occurring recurrent laryngeal neuropathy to assess reinnervation after FCN transplantation or nerve-muscle pedicle implantation in the cricoarytenoideus dorsalis muscle.

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research