Guttural Pouch Diseases in Horses: The Big Three

By Garrett Metcalf, DVM

There are very few species that have structures equivalent to the guttural pouch in the horse. The guttural pouch is a diverticulum or an enlargement of the eustachian tube that connects the nasopharynx to the middle ear. The purpose of the guttural pouch in the horse is still debated.

Some of the theories believe it is important in decreasing the weight of the skull, a flotation device, but recent research has found it may act to cool the blood to the brain. Regardless what the function is, it remains a very important structure for the horse and houses many vital anatomic structures. There are many diseases that can affect the guttural pouch and this article will help to inform on the most important diseases that can affect the guttural pouches.

One of the deadliest guttural pouch diseases that is essentially a ticking time bomb is called guttural pouch mycosis. Guttural pouch mycosis is a fungal disease caused by Aspergillus fungal species. The fungus attaches to the major arteries in the guttural pouch, specifically the internal carotid artery, the majority of the time.

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