Why might equines require an endoscopy?
Health problems are a concern for any responsible animal owner and an endoscopy may be recommended to help with diagnosing any number of conditions. However, endoscopies are routinely used in the sale/purchase of racehorses. This is because they can accurately identify the presence of a laryngeal condition that can affect the ability of a racehorse to successfully perform.
Equine endoscopies and laryngeal hemiplegia
Laryngeal hemiplegia (also referred to as recurrent laryngeal neuropathy or laryngeal paralysis) is an important and not uncommon condition amongst racehorses where the nerves that supply the muscles of the larynx become diseased, impeding their ability to function correctly. This prevents the larynx from opening completely, preventing the animal from taking adequate breaths and consequently reducing its’ ability to perform at full capacity.
Racehorses with laryngeal hemiplegia make an unusual ‘whistling’ noise when they breathe, caused by the narrower airway. An endoscope inserted into the upper respiratory tract will be able to identify the condition and this examination is commonly known as ‘the wind test’. Portable endoscopes are often used at horse sales/purchases for this reason so that the buyer can be sure that their horse is in good health and will be a sound investment. Trying to race a horse that suffers from laryngeal hemiplegia would be irresponsible as it could prove to be extremely dangerous to their health as they struggle for adequate breath.