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Objective—To compare racing performance before and after prosthetic laryngoplasty for treatment of laryngeal neuropathy in inexperienced and experienced Thoroughbred racehorses.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—52 Thoroughbred racehorses treated with prosthetic laryngoplasty for laryngeal neuropathy.

Procedure—Lifetime race records were analyzed by use of a verified regression model. Individual race records and hospital records were also reviewed.

Results—Experienced horses had a decline in performance, as measured by performance index, earnings percentage, and mean prediction error, during the 6-month period before prosthetic laryngoplasty. Performance improved after surgery, relative to performance in 1 to 4 races immediately before surgery, but did not attain previous baseline values for performance index and earnings percentage, although racing speed was restored to baseline values. Factors associated with failure to attain baseline levels of performance included other racing-related injuries and disorders, major complications of surgery, and age. Individually, however, many horses had long and successful careers after surgery. Performance of inexperienced horses after surgery was at least equal to that of experienced horses.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In addition to warning clients of the complications associated with prosthetic laryngoplasty, it may be prudent to provide a guarded prognosis for full restoration of racing performance in older horses, unless they are especially talented and are free of other racing-related problems. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;217:1689–1696)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association