Guttural Pouch Examination
The guttural pouches are paired air-filled, mucosa lined outpouchings of the auditory tubes connecting the throat (nasopharynx) to the middle ear. Their function is not quite understood. Each pouch has a volume of approximately 350ml and is separated into a larger medial and a smaller lateral compartment by the stylohyoid bone. Several major blood vessels (Internal & External carotid artery/ Maxillary artery) and cranial nerves (IX, X, XI, XII) run through each pouch.
Disease of the Guttural Pouch is relatively rare but is very serious when it does occur. Disease, usually fungal infection, causes dysfunction of the structures within the pouch. Fungal infection can cause erosion of the major blood vessel walls leading to life threatening nose bleeds (epistaxis) or an inability to swallow along with laryngeal paralysis due to cranial nerve damage. If infection is diagnosed promptly a surgical treatment is available to prevent death from haemorrhage.