Epiglottal entrapment

Veterinary advice should be sought before applying any treatment or vaccine.

Epiglottal Entrapment

Epiglottal entrapment (EE) is a common upper respiratory tract obstructive disorder of horses. From a survey of data compiled from endoscopic examinations of horses taken at rest, the prevalence of EE is 0.75 to 3.3%. EE occurs when the aryepiglottic folds (which are normally positioned just below the horse's epiglottis) become displaced during expiration, resulting in abnormal respiratory noise and exercise intolerance in affected horses. The entrapment may be intermittent and relieved upon swallowing, however most cases are usually associated with persistent entrapment.

Clinical signs of EE are highly variable and are similar to signs seen in many other upper respiratory tract conditions affecting horses. The most frequent presenting signs include coughing after eating, exercise intolerance with abnormal breathing noises during exercise and intermittent gurgling.

The most common complications involving surgical correction of EE include reentrapment (occuring in 4 to 15% of horses), and dorsal displacement of the soft palate (occuring in 10 to 15% of horses).


Exercise intolerance
Abnormal respiratory noises during exercise
Chronic coughing, especially after eating
Nasal discharge


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Endoscopy


Stall rest
Wire snare techniqueA minimally invasive, less costly and more straightforward surgery technique that was introduced in 2015 for resection of entrapping subepiglottic mucosa in adult horses.


74 to 82% of horses have a positive outcome following transoral axial division of the aryepiglottic tissue; 5–10% of horses have recurrence of the entrapment after surgery, and 10–15% of horses develop dorsal displacement of the soft palate following correction of epiglottic entrapment.

Scientific Research References

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