Lexington (859) 233-0371

Saratoga (518) 583-7273

Wellington (561) 383-5437


Advanced Methods for the Evaluation of the Upper Airway

Overground Endoscopy is available at all three of our hospitals: Lexington, Saratoga & Wellington.

Upper airway abnormalities are common causes of poor performance in the equine athlete. Horses of all breeds and disciplines can be affected by upper respiratory problems. Overground endoscopy allows the clinician to examine an equine athlete’s upper airway while exercising. This dynamic evaluation is useful in determining if the horse has an upper airway abnormality affecting performance. Certain upper airway abnormalities only become evident during exercise and will not be seen during a resting endoscopic evaluation. The examination is tailored to the type of work and fitness level of each horse, mimicking the speed and distance that the horse typically works. Overground examinations are recorded and evaluated in slow motion to identify subtle abnormalities.

The preferred method to evaluate the upper airway during exercise is overground endoscopy. Overground endoscopy uses endoscopic equipment attached to the horse so that the upper airway can be examined while the horse is working under natural conditions.

The overground equipment utilizes an endoscope fitted to a headstall, a light source, and a recording device fitted to a saddle pad. With the endoscope in place, the horse is put to work under his own tack or harness. The video of the airway is transmitted wirelessly to a hand-held monitor allowing the clinician to view the airway during the examination.

Case selection for overground endoscopy includes horses with exhibited exercise intolerance or poor performance and horses that make abnormal respiratory noise during exercise but have a normal endoscopic evaluation at rest to assess the effect of an abnormal endoscopic finding during exercise. Evaluation for possible cardiac abnormalities during exercise is also available.

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