Study of laryngopharyngeal pathology in Thoroughbred horses in southern California

Santiago S Diab, John Pascoe, M. Shahriar, D. Read, Hailu Kinde, J. Moore, J. Odani, Francisco A Uzal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Reasons for performing study: There is increasing anecdotal evidence among horse owners, trainers and equine clinicians of a high prevalence of subepiglottic ulcers, suggested to have a negative effect on racing performance. Objectives: To provide a prevalence study and pathological characterisation of laryngopharyngeal lesions with emphasis in the subepiglottic area and, in particular, subepiglottic ulcers. Methods: The study was carried out on 91 Thoroughbred racehorses received for post mortem examination from 4 major Southern California racetracks. The most common reason for submission was catastrophic musculoskeletal injury, but others include sudden death, laminitis, colic, colitis, neurological disorders, pleuropneumonia and arytenoid chondropathy. Laryngopharyngeal specimens were collected and examined grossly; selected cases were also examined histopathologically. Results: Thirteen horses (14.3%) had at least one type of laryngopharyngeal abnormality, 7 horses (7.7%) had lesions in the subepiglottic soft tissues, including 4 subepiglottic ulcers, 2 soft palate 'kissing lesions' and one 'subepiglottic scar'. Eight horses (8.8%) had lesions elsewhere in the laryngopharynx, including mucosal ulcerations, arytenoid chondropathy, epiglottic entrapment and partial absence of arytenoid cartilage. Conclusions and potential relevance: Lesions in the subepiglottic area were among the most prevalent in this study, suggesting that an important percentage of laryngopharyngeal abnormalities may be missed during routine endoscopy of the standing horse, which often does not include the examination of subepiglottic tissues. Pathologically, subepiglottic ulcers were chronic-active with viable hyperplastic epithelial margins, suggesting that proper healing and re-epithelialisation should occur with appropriate treatment. In most cases, the lesions observed do not necessarily indicate a clinical problem and more extensive prevalence studies and correlation between abnormalities found and performance are needed to assess the clinical relevance of subepiglottic soft tissue lesions accurately. 2009 EVJ Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)903-907
Number of pages5
JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
Issue number9
StatePublished - Dec 2009


  • Horse
  • Kissing lesions
  • Racing performance
  • Subepiglottic ulcers
  • Thoroughbred

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


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