Oesophageal lumen pH in yearling horses and effects of management and administration of omeprazole

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In human subjects, arytenoid chondritis can be caused by chemical trauma of mucosa attributable to gastro-oesophageal reflux. Although a similar process may be involved in the aetiopathogenesis of arytenoid chondritis in horses, the oesophageal lumen pH in this species is poorly understood.


To determine if gastro-oesophageal reflux occurs in horses by characterising oesophageal lumen pH.

Study design

Blinded, randomised, placebo-controlled, crossover, experimental study.


Luminal oesophageal pH in six yearling horses was recorded over four 24 h periods using an ambulatory pH recorder attached to a catheter with two electrodes (proximal and distal) inserted into the oesophagus. Recordings of pH were made during three management protocols. Initially, horses grazed in a paddock (Protocol A). Horses were then moved to stables to simulate sale preparation of Thoroughbred yearlings, and were given either omeprazole (Protocol B) or placebo paste (Protocol C) orally once per day. Protocol A was repeated for each horse (after a 13 day washout period) between Protocols B and C. Summary statistics described pH range and frequency of pH changes. Associations with predictor variables were investigated using linear mixed-effects models. Data are presented as the mean ± s.d.


Oesophageal lumen pH ranged from 4.90 to 9.70 (7.36 ± 0.27 and 7.18 ± 0.24 for the proximal and distal electrodes, respectively) and varied frequently (1.2 ± 0.9 changes/min and 0.8 ± 0.8 changes/min for the proximal and distal electrodes, respectively). Oesophageal lumen pH was associated with time since concentrate feeding, activity and time of day, but not with treatment of omeprazole.

Main limitations

A small number of horses were used and measurement periods were limited.


Gastro-oesophageal reflux occurs in clinically normal yearling horses. Although omeprazole had no detectable effect, oesophageal lumen pH recorded during this study did not fall within the therapeutic range of omeprazole.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-394
Number of pages6
JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
Issue number3
Early online dateAug 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2017


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