Why Airway Endoscopy?
Airway endoscopy is a powerful tool for diagnosing airway disease in horses that present breathing difficulties, weak performance or coughing. It is a minimally invasive technique performed in standing sedated horses. With the endoscope we can visually assess the pharynx, nose cavity, guttural pouches, trachea and the two large bronchi.
Examining the pharyngeal lymph tissue, we can see if there is any inflammation of the upper airways, paralysis of the larynx or signs of strangles infection in the guttural pouches.
When looking for lower airway disease, we can examine the quantity and quality of exudat/mucus in the trachea. The analysis of cells in samples obtained by performing a tracheal wash can provide the identification of inflammatory disease and bacterial infection. The aspect of the carina, the structure where the trachea splits into the two large bronchi and the analysis of the fluid obtained after a broncho-alveolar-lavage can be examined for accurate diagnosis of lung disease like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or recurrent airway obstruction, one of the most diagnosed breathing problems in horses.
Performing airway endoscopy helps us to find the right treatment for horses presenting with breathing problems and makes it possible to reassess the airways after treatment so that we can evaluate improvement and offer further therapy if required.
Airway Endoscopy: Case
Tayha is a 10-year-old Friesian mare, who presented with exercise intolerance, with no nasal discharge or coughing. The clinical examination was unremarkable, with normal vitals except one larger submandibular lymph node. The blood analysis showed
an increased number of white blood cells and neutrophilia. At the first endoscopy we noticed a moderate pharyngeal lymphoid hyperplasia, increased tracheal fluid and a round shape carina. Tracheal wash presented a moderately cellularity consistent with allergic lower airway disease. After treatment with antibiotics, steroids and bronchodilators, we repeated the blood analysis and tracheal wash cytology and results came back in normal ranges. Tayha is now back on her normal training programme.