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Dorsal Displacement Of The Soft Palate

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

The floor of the pharynx is the soft palate, separating the nasal cavity above with the oral cavity below. At the back of the soft palate there is an opening between two cavities. The epiglottis can be seen in this area through the endoscope as a triangle-shaped piece of cartilaginous material which moves up to cover the laryngeal opening when the horse swallows.

For a variety of reasons the soft palate may get into an abnormal position in relation to the epiglottis, and airway obstruction can occur. Horseman sometimes refer to the condition as the horse swallowing his tongue. Tongue ties sometimes help alleviate the problem- at least they are commonly tried.

A genetically short epiglottis is often the initiating cause of the problem. The problem is exacerbated when the horse pulls its larynx back. A tongue tie helps to keep the horse from pulling the larynx back. Surgery to cut the muscles which pull the larynx back will improve the condition in about 60% of the cases.

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