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Service Information

Endoscopy

Endoscopy can be performed at our Northamptonshire clinic, where we can utilise our stocks, or at your yard.

Endoscopy is primarily used to evaluate the respiratory tract and stomach. It is particularly useful in assessing horses with respiratory problems and recurrent colic or poor performance.

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Respiratory endoscopy

The endoscope is passed up the nostril in the standing patient – this allows us to see the nasal cavity, pharynx, larynx and guttural pouches as well as the trachea (windpipe).

In coughing horses endoscopy is used to assess the appearance and volume of muco-pus being produced by the lower airways. Samples of this fluid can be taken using a tracheal wash via the endoscope and then analysed under the microscope to help determine the severity and cause. Samples can be cultured in our laboratory to determine the presence of pathogenic bacteria and their sensitivity to the antibiotics we have available.

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.

Other uses

The endoscope can also be used to visualise the mouth, urethra, bladder and uterus.