Managing DDSP in Sport Horses Medically

Researchers have suggested a link between DDSP and lower airway inflammation in racehorses, but the concept hadn’t been explored in sport horses. So, scientists in Belgium reviewed medical to identify instances and outcomes of DDSP treated medically.

managing ddsp
Medical treatment was successful in 22 of the 25 cases. Horses stopped coughing or making a respiratory noise and and performed up to expectation under saddle. | Photo: iStock

While lower airway disorders in horses—think pneumonia or equine asthma—usually necessitate medical treatment, upper airway issues such as recurrent laryngeal neuropathy (“roaring”) or epiglottic entrapment are generally treated surgically, right? In many cases, yes. But researchers recently determined that, in sport horses, medical treatment might be useful for an upper airway disorder that commonly affects racehorses: dorsal displacement of the soft palate, or DDSP.

Fe ter Woort, DVM, DVSc, Dipl. ACVIM, of Equine Sports Medicine Practice, in Waterloo, Belgium, shared the results of her recent retrospective study on treating DDSP sans surgery at the 2018 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum, held earlier this year in Seattle, Washington.

Displacement occurs when the horse’s palate shifts on top of the epiglottis and partially obstructs the airway. This leads to clinical signs such as respiratory noise, coughing, and poor performance. It’s most common in racehorses but can also appear in sport

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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