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Clinical signs, evaluation of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, and assessment of pulmonary function in horses with inflammatory respiratory disease

Laurent L. CouëtilDepartment of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.

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Frank S. RosenthalSchool of Health Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.

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Dennis B. DeNicolaDepartment of Veterinary Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.

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Clayton D. ChilcoatDepartment of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.

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Abstract

Objective—To evaluate the association among clinical signs, results of cytologic evaluation of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid, and measures of pulmonary function in horses with inflammatory respiratory disease.

Animals—9 healthy horses, 5 horses with inflammatory airway disease (IAD), and 9 horses with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Procedure—Clinical examination, lung function tests, and BAL were performed on each horse.

Results—Standard lung mechanics of horses with exacerbated COPD differed significantly from those of healthy horses; however, there were few differences among horses with IAD, horses with COPD during remission, and healthy horses. Most variables for forced expiration (FE) in horses with COPD or IAD differed significantly from those for healthy horses. Results of clinical examination had low to moderate sensitivity and predictive values for a diagnosis of COPD (range, 67 to 80%). Results of FE tests had high sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values for a diagnosis of COPD (79 to 100%), and results of standard lung mechanics tests had low sensitivity and predictive values (22 to 69%). Percentage of neutrophils in BAL fluid was highly sensitive (100%) but moderately specific (64%) for a diagnosis of COPD.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—Clinical examination is moderately accurate for establishing a diagnosis of COPD. Forced expiration tests can specifically detect early signs of airway obstruction in horses with COPD and IAD that may otherwise be inapparent. Cytologic evaluation of BAL fluid allows early detection of inflammatory respiratory disease, but it is not specific for COPD. (Am J Vet Res 2001;62: 538–546)

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate the association among clinical signs, results of cytologic evaluation of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid, and measures of pulmonary function in horses with inflammatory respiratory disease.

Animals—9 healthy horses, 5 horses with inflammatory airway disease (IAD), and 9 horses with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Procedure—Clinical examination, lung function tests, and BAL were performed on each horse.

Results—Standard lung mechanics of horses with exacerbated COPD differed significantly from those of healthy horses; however, there were few differences among horses with IAD, horses with COPD during remission, and healthy horses. Most variables for forced expiration (FE) in horses with COPD or IAD differed significantly from those for healthy horses. Results of clinical examination had low to moderate sensitivity and predictive values for a diagnosis of COPD (range, 67 to 80%). Results of FE tests had high sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values for a diagnosis of COPD (79 to 100%), and results of standard lung mechanics tests had low sensitivity and predictive values (22 to 69%). Percentage of neutrophils in BAL fluid was highly sensitive (100%) but moderately specific (64%) for a diagnosis of COPD.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—Clinical examination is moderately accurate for establishing a diagnosis of COPD. Forced expiration tests can specifically detect early signs of airway obstruction in horses with COPD and IAD that may otherwise be inapparent. Cytologic evaluation of BAL fluid allows early detection of inflammatory respiratory disease, but it is not specific for COPD. (Am J Vet Res 2001;62: 538–546)