The overground endoscope is a major breakthrough in equine veterinary medicine. It is so called as it enables the vet to assess a horses laryngeal function whilst the horse is being exercised in its normal environment. It thus removes the need for assessment of laryngeal dysfunction by treadmill which involves referral to either Bristol or Newmarket, and a period of readjustment while the horse acclimatises to the treadmill exercise.
As with all new technologies, there are many imperfections that need ironing out before an effective instrument can be used in practice. Therefore at present , we are using the services of Dr Sam Franklin from Bristol University , who has a prototype mobile endoscope which is carried on the head of the horse and is well tolerated. A fine endoscope, which is passed in much the same way as for normal endoscopic examination, attached in place so that the field of vision shows the whole of the epiglottis and larynx. There is a small recording box placed under the jowls which is held in place by a normal headpiece. The horse can then be sent out to exercise as normal using whichever gallop is deemed the most suitable. The picture is recorded during exercise and is also transmitted to a small screen which allows the vet to check positioning before the start of each canter and then to monitor the image so that problems can often diagnosed in real time.
Cardiac function will also be assessed at the same time using a heart monitor which is attached under the saddle area. Collating the recorded material from the endoscope with heart rate enables video assessment to be made at the time of maximal exercise. Hence many of the breathing problems which have confounded vets and trainers alike over many years, may become a thing of the past.