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Upper Respiratory Medicine and Surgery

Upper airway disease is a common performance-limiting problem in equine athletes. The signal may be respiratory noise, but silent obstructions can also occur.


Equine Center experts can completely evaluate airway function using medical tests and the following procedures:

  • Video endoscopy and radiography are the mainstay of upper airway diagnosis, but many conditions manifest only during exercise. We use dynamic endoscopy to perform video endoscopy in the horse's natural environment.
  • Digital ultrasound also reveals the structure of the laryngeal cartilages, which affect respiratory function.


Conventional and laser surgery procedures are offered to help address laryngeal hemiplegia (roaring), dorsal displacement of the soft palate, epiglottic entrapment, and arytenoid chondritis.

Advantages of laser surgery for treating airway disorders

  • More versatile than a scalpel, surgical lasers deliver light or heat to incise, coagulate, or vaporize tissue. Laser surgical sites experience less bleeding and swelling than do conventional surgical wounds.
  • The diode laser can be utilized with a video endoscope for upper airway surgery.
  • Surgical procedures performed with lasers can often be performed on standing horses on an outpatient basis. The surgery is carried out through the nostril, leaving no external wound.

Appointments and referrals:

To schedule an appointment, refer a patient, or inquire about our clinical services, please call 703-771-6800 or email

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