Diagnosing and Treating Equine Sinus Diseases

A horse’s sinus cavities are complex, which makes diagnosing and managing equine sinus diseases challenging for veterinarians.
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Equine sinus diseases remain challenging for veterinarians to diagnose and treat.|| | Photo: The Horse Staff

Your horse’s sinus cavities are complex: A variety of caverns of different sizes and shapes rest just behind the bones of his face, surrounded by soft tissue and abutting his molars. This makes diagnosing and managing equine sinus diseases challenging for veterinarians. In fact, an estimated 47% of horses that undergo sinus surgery reportedly develop some type of postoperative complication.

Before delving into common causes of sinus disease during his presentation at the 2017 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Nov. 17-21 in San Antonio, Texas, José García-López, VMD, Dipl. ACVS, ACVSMR, reviewed the paranasal sinus anatomy for attendees. García-López, who is director of Equine Sports Medicine from the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, in North Grafton, Massachusetts, described the frontal, conchal, maxillary, and sphenopalatine cavities, along with the normal “communications” between them (how they’re connected and drain into one another). He did note that there are some “funky crevices” that allow materials to hide, and accessing those areas can be difficult for veterinarians.

“When approaching horses with sinus disease, it is important to know where the communications are between the various sinuses,” emphasized García-López

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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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