Novel Use for the ‘Tie Forward’ Procedure in Horses

Often used to treat dorsal displacement of the soft palate, the technique also appears useful for treating dysphagia.

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Equine veterinary researchers have repurposed a common surgical procedure and found that it’s not only useful for treating intermittent dorsal displacement of the soft palate, but also pharyngeal dysphagia.

“When the pharynx doesn’t function properly, food is not transported properly from the oral cavity to the esophagus,” explained Susan Holcombe, VMD, MS, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, ACVECC, from the Michigan State University Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, in East Lansing. "Affected horses can discharge feed material from the nose, cough, become dehydrated, or have food transported into the trachea and lungs instead of the gastrointestinal system."

Various nerves that pass through horses’ guttural pouches control pharynx (throat) movement during swallowing. This can prove problematic if horses get infections in those pouches—in fact, 30-46% of horses with fungal infections of one or both guttural pouches develop pharyngeal dysfunction and dysphagia.

The tie-forward procedure was originally developed by Norm G. Ducharme, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, to treat horses diagnosed with intermittent dorsal displacement of the soft palate (DDSP)

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Written by:

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she’s worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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