Racing performance following prosthetic laryngoplasty using a polyurethane prosthesis combined with a laser-assisted ventriculocordectomy for treatment of recurrent laryngeal neuropathy in 78 Thoroughbred racehorses

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Reasons for performing study:

Recurrent laryngeal neuropathy (RLN) causes airway obstruction and adversely affects racing performance in Thoroughbred racehorses. Prosthetic laryngoplasty (PL) is the preferred treatment of RLN as it returns variables of airway mechanics to baseline. A number of materials have been evaluated as prostheses; however, the application of Lycra has not been rigorously investigated.


To evaluate the efficacy of PL using a Lycra prosthesis, in combination with transendoscopic, laser-assisted ventriculocordectomy, to restore racing performance in Thoroughbred racehorses with RLN.

Study design:

Retrospective case series.


Medical records, preoperative and post operative racing performance indices from 78 Thoroughbred racehorses that underwent surgical treatment for RLN were evaluated. Medical records, preoperative and post operative racing performance indices were evaluated. Case history, post operative complications and PL failure were recorded. Racing performance was analysed using Beyer Speed Figures (BSF), earnings and a performance index (PI), with comparisons made between the 3 races before and after surgery. Factors associated with return to racing and racing performance were analysed.


Eighty-two per cent (46/56) of horses that raced prior to surgery and 75% (15/20) of horses that had not raced prior to surgery competed in at least one race post operatively. Horses had a lower BSF and PI in the final race before surgery. Following surgery, PI and BSF values were restored to preoperative values in 73% and 78% of horses respectively. Surgical failure rate and immediate post operative complication rate were lower than, or comparable with, other reported prosthesis materials.


Thoroughbred racehorses with RLN have a good prognosis for racing successfully after PL using a Lycra prosthesis. The described surgical technique is associated with a low post operative complication rate and an increase in indicators of racing performance (PI and BSF) post operatively. Lycra offers an attractive option for application as a prosthetic for PL with a low complication rate and similar efficacy to reported rigid prostheses.

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