Over-ground Endoscopy - The DR Scope

Over-ground Endoscopy is a particular area of expertise within our practice with Liam performing hundreds of examinations on performance horses annually.

What is it? 

The On-board scope or DR (Dynamic Respiratory) scope is an advanced form of respiratory endoscopy that allows assessment of the function of the upper airway of an exercising horse. Liam Sharp and the late Peter Gibbons purchased the first DR scope to be used in Ireland in 2008 and since then, Lisadell Equine Hospital has assessed over 2000 horses and diagnosed countless performance-limiting conditions. As a result, this procedure has become one of our key areas of expertise in the field of poor performance investigations. Both Peter and Liam have lectured on this topic to a variety of audiences. While some wind conditions such as laryngeal paralysis can be diagnosed with a normal “resting” scope, the increased airway pressures which occur in the maximally exercising horse can result in a wide-range of problems which will not be apparent at rest. 

When should it be used? 

We advise use of the DR scope in horses reported to be making a noise at exercise in order to fully evaluate the problems contributing to this abnormal noise and the best course of action. However, as up to 30% of horses that displace their palates will never make a noise, we recommend the DR scope in any horse in which poor or below-expected performance has been identified, particularly horses which cut out unexpectedly in their work or races. While we primarily examine racehorses with this equipment, in can be useful in all performance horses including trotters and eventers.

What does it involve? 

The vet will discuss your horse’s history and the nature of the suspected problem. An endoscope (scope) is passed up the horses nose and fastened to the bridle. No special tack is required; our equipment will fit around your usual gear. The scope is most commonly used in horses ridden on a gallops but can also be used on the lunge in certain cases. Afterwards, the vet will assess the video and produce a report of the findings and recommended treatments. For many conditions, surgery may be required to correct the issues identified, it is important that the surgery is tailored to the horse according to the problems detected. We offer a wide range of respiratory surgeries at Lisadell including Tie-back, Tie-forward, Hobday, Palatal Thermocautery, and a full-range of laser surgeries according to your horses needs.

If required, we can provide you with the video of your horse’s airway on USB or via email. In some cases, no abnormalities of the upper airway are present, if this is the case, we can advise on other possible causes of poor performance and advise you of alternative diagnostic procedures such as performing a lung wash for lower airway disease. 
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Where can it be done? 

We can travel to your premises to perform the examination. We advise that you have use of suitable gallops where the suspected problem (noise or exercise intolerance) typically occurs. 

Many problems only occur when the horse is worked away from home, away from its familiar environment. Therefore, we conduct a large number of examinations each year at local gallops such as those at Skryne and Lee Valley Training centres or at schooling races. Working the horse with a lead horse can also be useful in some instances, the aim is to recreate the conditions- usually maximal exercise as in a race, under which the problem occurs. Alternatively, in a young horse or one reported to be making a noise specifically on the lunge the equipment can be used while lunging.

How can I book a DR scope? 

If you would like to make an appointment, please phone the office to arrange a time and location. If you require any further information, you can be passed onto one of the vets for further discussion.

  • Axial Deviation of the Aryepiglotic Folds
    ADAF Axial Deviation of the Aryepiglotic Folds
  • Epiglottic retroversion
  • Dorsal Displacement of the Soft Palate
    DDSP Dorsal Displacement of the Soft Palate
  • Dynamic Respiratory endoscopy- evaluation of upper airway disorders in the exercising horse
    DR Scope Dynamic Respiratory endoscopy- evaluation of upper airway disorders in the exercising horse
  • Dynamic endoscopy in the ridden or lunged horse
    On-board scope Dynamic endoscopy in the ridden or lunged horse