Radiographic assessment of epiglottic length and pharyngeal and laryngeal diameters in the Thoroughbred.

R. L. Linford, T. R. O'Brien, J. D. Wheat, Dennis Meagher

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A lateral radiograph of the pharyngeal region provides a technique for identifying pharyngeal disorders, including entrapment of the epiglottic cartilage and dorsal displacement of the soft palate. Epiglottic cartilage length, predicted from radiographs by measurement from the body of the thyroid cartilage to the tip of the epiglottis (thyroepiglottic length), was well correlated to actual length at postmortem examination (r2 = 0.98). Thyroepiglottic length, corrected for magnification, was 8.76 +/- 0.44 cm in 24 healthy Thoroughbreds. Nine Thoroughbreds with entrapment of the epiglottic cartilage and 6 with dorsal displacement of the soft palate had significantly short thyroepiglottic lengths--6.59 +/- 0.33 cm and 6.43 +/- 0.40 cm, respectively. The nasopharyngeal diameter of the Thoroughbreds with dorsal displacement of the soft palate was significantly less than the nasopharyngeal diameter of healthy Thoroughbreds. There was no significant difference between healthy and abnormal Thoroughbreds for pharyngoepiglottic, laryngeal, or tracheal measurements as determined from the lateral radiographs. The head should be placed in a normal resting position to obtain the pharyngeal radiograph. Maximum dorsiflexion of the head significantly increased the pharyngoepiglottic distance, whereas maximum ventriflexion significantly decreased this distance. The nasopharyngeal diameter during dorsiflexion was significantly greater than during ventriflexion. This investigation documented that a lateral pharyngeal radiograph provides important diagnostic information for evaluating suspected pharyngeal disorders in Thoroughbreds with airway obstruction of the cranial part of the respiratory tract.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1660-1666
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Veterinary Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 1983
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)

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