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Laryngeal Surgery for Roaring, Other



A laryngotomy is a surgical procedure that involves an incision through the floor of the larynx, usually performed with the horse on its back under general anesthesia. This differs from the “tieback” surgery, in which the procedure is performed from the outside of the larynx.

Through the laryngotomy approach, masses and obstructions can be removed from inside the larynx.

Ventriculectomy is the removal of the ventricle, a sac of tissue adjacent to the vocal cord. Scarring that results during healing may help keep the airway open.

Ventriculocordectomy is the removal of the vocal fold and ventricle from the larynx.

The large surgical laryngotomy wound is left open and allowed to heal open. This may seem intimidating at first but the wound tends to heal very rapidly.

A completely different procedure is pedicle graft. In this procedure, a nearby nerve is moved and attached to the failed laryngeal muscle. The idea is that nerve and muscle function is restored.


Keep the wound area clean, and monitor it for swelling and abnormal discharge. Some surgeons recommend the use of throat sprays and/or wounds treatments. At all times, the horse should keep a positive attitude and good appetite and in most cases, coughing should be minimal and decrease with time. Respiratory noise and effort should be minimal at rest.

Related DiagnosesThis Treatment Might Be Used for these Diagnoses

Consider Potential Side Effects & Complications

Surgical wounds may become infected or take a long time to heal.

Chronic coughing is always a possibility with laryngeal surgery.

Failure to correct the problem is always possible.

Consider Reasons Not To Use This Treatment

Surgery may not be necessary in horses that do not perform at high levels. Many pleasure horses can perform fine with mild airway obstruction.

Is It working? Timeframe for effect

Improvement in roaring should be noted upon return to exercise at the faster gaits. Respiratory noise and effort should be minimal at rest.

Horses are returned to work at 45-60 days in many cases, depending upon the procedure performed.

Questions To Ask My Vet

  • Is this the best approach to improve my horse's performance & decrease roaring?
  • Can this be performed standing using a surgical laser?
  • What is the likelihood of complications?
  • How frequently do you perform this surgery?
  • How does the outcome & complications associated with this surgery compare to other options?

Helpful Outside ResourcesCredible Equine Health Information on the Internet

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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