Saturday, December 18, 2021

A cheaper alternative for URT scoping

Is there a cheaper alternative to the traditional endoscopes used for examination of the upper respiratory tract (URT) of horses?

Flexible endoscopes have proved invaluable for inspecting the inner workings of the equine respiratory system for over 40 years. The equipment is expensive and so is not always readily available. 


Borescopes are commonly used in industry for tasks such as the inspecting the inside of engines and other confined spaces.  A wide variety of types are available, most considerably less expensive than medical grade endoscopes. 


Researchers in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, investigated the suitability of a flexible and steerable borescope connected to a smartphone for examining upper respiratory tract problems in horses. Zoe Neuchermans and her colleagues in the department of Large Animal Internal Medicine conducted a study involving a series of clinical cases. Horses were inspected first with a flexible borescope and then with the standard flexible endoscope.


They made digital recordings of upper respiratory tract including structures of interest (depending on the clinical case). These were later reviewed by an observer who did not know which device had been used to make the recording. The work was presented at the British Equine Veterinary Association Congress 2021 and has been published in the Equine Veterinary Journal.


The authors report that “borescope and endoscope grading scores for pharyngeal lymphoid hyperplasia, recurrent laryngeal neuropathy and tracheal mucus were identical in 88/100, 93/100 and 48/59 horses, respectively. The remainder differed only one (sub)grade.”


The only problem they reported was that they had to replace the borescope after about 45 examinations as the steering mechanism started to fail ,which limited the field of view.


Although their study was limited to only one of the many types of borescope available, the researchers came to the conclusion that a flexible, steerable borescope, connected to a smartphone, provides a cheap alternative to perform URT endoscopy in horses.


For more details, see: 


Diagnosis of upper respiratory tract disorders in horses using a cheap, flexible and steerable borescope

Z. Neuckermans; E. Paulussen; L.-M. Verhaeghe and G. van Loon.

Equine Vet J (2001) Vol 53, S55, p22-23

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