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Friday, January 25, 2013

Guttural Pouch Mycosis in a horse!!

The endoscopic images in Figure 1 and 2 are that of a normal guttural pouch in a horse. There are 2 guttural pouches in the horse and their role is not clearly defined. However, there are several very important structures which course through the guttural pouches. These include large veins and arteries plus critical cranial nerves (Figure 2) . Each guttural pouch is divided into a medial and lateral compartment by a unique bone named the stylohyoid bone. This bone articulates with the base of the skull, just below the ear drum and is part of the support structure for the tongue and larynx! As such, when the horse moves its tongue the articulation between the stylohyoid bone and the base of the skull moves as well. The large blood vessels located within the guttural pouch are important for bringing oxygenated blood to the brain and draining deoxygenated blood from the brain. Equally important are the cranial nerves that course through the guttural pouches. These nerves are essential for a proper swallowing reflex, sensation to the face, and balance.

Figure 1
Figure 2
The endoscopic images in Figures 3-5 are from a gelding that presented for a history of purulent nasal discharge that responded to antibiotic treatment. The endoscopic exam was requested as a follow-up to make sure there was nothing lurking in the horse's upper airway. When the right guttural pouch was entered, a large white plaque was noted covering the entire stylohyoid bone. There was minimal discharge within the pouch and there appeared to be mold covering the surface of the plaque!!

Figure 3
Figure 4
In Figures 4 and 5, the proximity of the fungal plaque with the large blood vessels and important nerves can be seen. Normally, fungi seek out vascular tissue and slowly erode the walls of vessels which can result in low grade bleeding and if it is a large artery, sudden death!! Commonly, horses with fungal infection or mycosis of the guttural pouch present with a history of a bloody nose (epistaxis), however this horse did not. When the plaque was disturbed with the scope, the underlying tissue was exposed and the inflammation was evident.  A bacterial and fungal culture was performed on the fluid recovered during the guttural pouch lavage and a fungi was recovered yet the identity is still being worked out. This condition is difficult to treat and is currently being managed with systemic antifungals and guttural pouch lavage. Stay tuned!!!!

Figure 5





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