Dorsal Displacement of the Soft Palate

This disease will result in the soft palate being placed on top of the epiglottis rather than the soft palate staying under the epiglottis. The soft palate can be permanently or intermittently displaced. The cause for this disease is not completely understood. Clinical signs seen with this disease include exercise intolerance and gurgling or raspy noises when exercising. Many people often think that the horse has swallowed their tongue when the horse has a displaced soft palate.

Dorsal displacement of the soft palate


Video endoscopy, Dynamic endoscopy, Radiographs

Treatment options

There are several ways to treat a horse that has a dorsal displacement of the soft palate. We can do a sternothyrohyoideus myectomy which carries a 65% prognosis to resolving the problem. With this procedure we remove a 4 inch portion of muscle on the bottom of the neck just behind the jaw bone. The procedure is done with the horse standing and sedated and there is minimal cosmetic defects created with this procedure. We can also do a tie forward procedure which carries an 85% prognosis to resolve the problem. A tie forward procedure is performed with the horse under general anesthesia. The incision is made between the jaw bone and a suture is placed to pull the larynx forward and prevent the soft palate from displacing. Frequently we will perform a laser palatoplasty along with both of the procedures mentioned above.