Dorsal Displacement of the Soft Palate (DDSP) has been well described in race horses1 2 . Even though a link between DDSP and lower airway inflammation has been suggested in race horses3, the treatment of choice remains surgical. DDSP has also been described in sport horses4 although no efforts have been made to correlate this with lower airway inflammation.
A retrospective study was performed over a period of 3 years: 270 overground endoscopies were performed on sport horses presented to a private referral practice with a complaint of cough, respiratory noise or poor performance. Of these, 27 horses had DDSP. The DDSP was associated with coughing in 22/27 horses, noise in 4/27 horses and was silent in 1 horse. A tracheal wash was performed in all cases and an additional bronchoalveolar lavage was performed in 24 cases. Tracheal inflammation was present in 25/27 horses and lower airway inflammation was present in 24/24 horses. The bacterial culture of the tracheal wash was positive in 14/27 horses and the fungal culture was positive in 16/27 horses. Medical treatment was attempted in 25 horses. This involved topical anti-inflammatory treatment with furacine and DMSO and/or inhaled corticosteroids, bronchodilators and antimicrobial therapy where appropriate. Follow-up was available for all 25 cases. This included a recheck overground endoscopy in 3 horses, recheck of the respiratory samples in 8 horses and phone contact of 22 horses. Treatment was successful in 22/25 cases. These horses stopped coughing or making a noise and were performing up to expectation. Treatment failures occurred in 2 very chronic cases and 1 case where the DDSP occurred after tie back surgery.
This study shows that in this sport horse population, DDSP was associated with lower airway inflammation in a large proportion of cases and can be managed medically.
1. Holcombe SJ, Derksen FJ, Stick JA, Robinson NE. Pathophysiology of dorsal displacement of the soft palate in horses. 1999;30:45-48.
2. Parente EJ, Acvs D, Martin BB, Tulleners EP, Ross MW. Dorsal Displacement of the Soft Palate in 92 Horses During High-Speed Treadmill Examination. Vet Surg. 2002;31:507-512.
3. Courouce-Malblanc A, Deniau V, Rossignol F, et al. Physiological measurements and prevalence of lower airway diseases in Trotters with dorsal displacement of the soft palate. Equine Vet J. 2010.
4. Davidson EJ, Martin BB, Boston RC, Parente EJ. Exercising upper respiratory videoendoscopic evaluation of 100 nonracing performance horses with abnormal respiratory noise and/or poor performance. Equine Vet J. 2011.
Equine Sports Medicine Practice
Fe graduated from the University of Liège, Belgium in 2008 followed by an internship at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island, Canada. During her internal medicine residency at the University of Guelph, Canada, she combined her clinical training with a graduate degree. Her research focused on Inflammatory Airway Disease in actively racing horses and in 2012 she defended her thesis to receive a DVSc degree from the University of Guelph. After becoming a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in 2013, she pursued her interest in equine sports medicine further: she successfully completed a 2 year Equine Ultrasound and Cardiology Fellowship at New Bolton Center, USA. Fe currently works in Belgium, for the Equine Sports Medicine Practice, helping several national equestrian teams reach their peak performance and providing specialty equine cardiology, respiratory and ultrasound services across Europe.
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