Radiographic quantification of tracheal dimensions of the normal thoroughbred horse

Ann Carstens, Robert M. Kirberger, Richard J. Grimbeek, Cynthia M.B. Donnellan, Montague N. Saulez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Radiographic measurement of tracheal dimensions in the horse may be useful in evaluating upper and lower respiratory tract conditions due to the gradient of pressure changes between these areas. Lateral radiographs of the trachea of 15 normal sedated Thoroughbred horses were made at inspiration and expiration and magnification-corrected mean airway heights measured were, respectively: larynx: 5.89 and 5.86 cm; trachea at the third cervical vertebra (C3): 4.17 and 4.04 cm; at the fifth cervical vertebra (C5): 3.62 and 3.59 cm; at the first thoracic vertebra (T1): 3.4 and 3.23 cm; and carina: 3.85 and 4.12 cm. The ratio of airway height to nearby vertebral body lengths, at inspiration and expiration were, respectively: laryngeal height at C3: 0.56 and 0.56; tracheal height at C3: 0.4 and 0.39; at C5: 0.37 and 0.37; at T1: 0.59 and 0.59; and carina height: 0.91 and 0.94. The ratio of tracheal height to the thoracic inlet at inspiration and expiration was, respectively, 0.15 and 0.15. There was not a statistically significant association between airway diameter and phase of respiration. No association was found between tracheal height and body mass or height at the withers. Radiographic tracheal height can be measured independent of respiratory phase in sedated horses. It is suggested that the ratio of tracheal height to an adjacent bony landmark is more reliable for comparison between horses and tracheal height measurement should be made at C5, due to a lower standard deviation. If only thoracic radiographs are made, measurements of tracheal height at the thoracic inlet may be valuable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-501
Number of pages10
JournalVeterinary Radiology and Ultrasound
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sept 2009


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