Endoscopic examination of the upper airway tract, using a flexible, 1-meter fibre optic endoscope, is used to assess and diagnose conditions of upper airway. It is useful in the diagnosis of performance limiting conditions associated with noise at exercise, eg. roaring, respiratory tract infections and airway bleeding.

Indications for endoscopy include:

  • Nasal discharge (mucus, pus, blood, food, milk)
  • Respiratory noise (at exercise or rest)
  • Facial swelling
  • Coughing
  • Respiratory issues

The endoscope is passed through the nostril and down the nasal passage into the pharynx, where the respiratory tract and oral cavity merge. Once in the pharynx, the soft palate, larynx, and guttural pouch openings can be visualized. From here the endoscope is passed through the larynx into the trachea, where it divides into the two major bronchi.

In addition to visual assessment of the respiratory tract a tracheal wash may be performed. The endoscope is passed into the trachea and a narrow catheter is fed down a channel in the endoscope. Approximately 30mls of sterile saline is then injected through the tube into the airway where it mixes with fluid and cellular debris. The fluid and contents are then drawn back into the syringe. It can then be analysed for red or white blood cells, bacteria and fungal spores.

In most cases endoscopy is carried out in the standing, resting horse but some horses may require mild sedation. We are happy to carry out this procedure at the clinic or at your yard.

Other uses for endoscopy include assessment of the urinary tract and bladder, sinus evaluation and guttural pouch washing for strangles testing.