Reasons for performing study: Laryngoplasty (LP) is currently the most common surgical treatment for equine laryngeal paralysis, however, there have been no reports quantifying the degree of retention of arytenoid abduction following LP. Additionally, the complications of LP have been poorly documented.
Objectives: To record the degree of arytenoid abduction retention following LP and to accurately document all complications of surgery.
Methods: A study (1986-1998) of 200 horses of mixed breed and workload, median age 6 years (prospective 136 cases and retrospective 64 cases) undergoing LP (using 2 stainless steel wires) and combined ventriculocordectomy was undertaken; 198 owners completed questionnaires, a median of 19 months following surgery. The degree of arytenoid abduction achieved was endoscopically, semi-quantitatively evaluated using a 5-grade system, at 1 day, 7 days, and 6 weeks after surgery.
Results: On the day following LP, 62% of horses had good (median grade 2) arytenoid abduction, 10% had excessive (grade 1), and 5% had minimal (grade 4) abduction (overall median grade 2). Due to progressive loss of abduction, moderate (median grade 3, range 1-5) abduction was present overall at I and 6 weeks after LP. Further surgery was required to re-tighten prostheses in 10% of cases with excessive loss of abduction, or to loosen prostheses in 7% of horses which had continuing high levels of LP abduction and significant post operative dysphagia. LP wound problems (mainly seromas and suture abscesses) were reported to last <2 weeks in 9% of cases, <4 weeks in 4% and >4 weeks in 4%. The (partially sutured) laryngotomy wounds discharged post operatively for <2 weeks in 22% of cases, <4 weeks in 7% and for >4 weeks in 2%. Coughing occurred at some stage post operatively in 43% of cases and its presence correlated significantly with the degree of surgical arytenoid abduction. This coughing occurred during eating in 24% of cases and was not associated with eating (or dysphagia) in the other 19% of cases. Chronic (>6 months duration) coughing occurred in 14%, of cases, but appeared to be due to intercurrent pulmonary disease in half of these horses.
Conclusions: Suturing the cricotracheal membrane allows most laryngotomy wounds to heal quickly. Laryngoplasty wound problems were of little long-term consequence when stainless steel wire prostheses were used.
Potential relevance: A significant loss of LP abduction occurs in most horses in the 6 weeks following surgery and efforts should be made to find ways to prevent such loss. However, excessive LP abduction is associated with post operative dysphagia and coughing.