Emer­gency: Gut­tural Pouch My­co­sis

Practical Horseman - - Rassing's lonoir -

While si­nus dis­ease is not usu­ally con­sid­ered an emer­gency, a nose bleed should never be un­der­es­ti­mated. It could be the sign of a rare, life-threat­en­ing fun­gal in­fec­tion called gut­tural pouch my­co­sis.

A horse has two large gut­tural pouches, one on each side of the head, lo­cated high in the skull be­neath the ear. They cool blood dur­ing ex­er­cise, par­tic­u­larly reg­u­lat­ing the tem­per­a­ture of blood flow to the brain. The pouches are cov­ered by a thin mem­brane, be­neath which are im­por­tant ar­te­rial veins and cra­nial nerves.

If a fun­gus has grown on an artery in a gut­tural pouch, it can cause fa­tal hem­or­rhag­ing due to ar­te­rial dam­age. If a horse has a nose bleed, a vet­eri­nar­ian usu­ally first will check for a gut­tural pouch my­co­sis with an en­do­scope.

“It’s im­por­tant to dif­fer­en­ti­ate,” says Ken­neth E. Sullins, DVM, MS, DACVS, a pro­fes­sor of surgery at Mid­west­ern Univer­sity’s Col­lege of Vet­eri­nary Medicine. “With gut­tural pouch my­co­sis, the bleed­ing will be bright red and pro­fuse. It’s not some­thing you’ll mix up with an eth­moid hematoma. My­co­sis is an emer­gency.”

Gut­tural pouch my­co­sis is a se­ri­ous fun­gal in­fec­tion of blood ves­sels within pouches of the horse’s up­per air­way. This scope im­age shows an in­ter­nal view of the my­co­sis.

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