Clients & Visitors

Upper Respiratory Medicine and Surgery


The EMC offers a variety of ways to diagnose problems within a horse's respiratory system.

Upper airway disease is a common performance-limiting problem in equine athletes. The signal may be respiratory noise but silent obstructions can occur.

Video endoscopy is the mainstay of upper airway diagnosis, but many conditions manifest only during exercise. At the EMC, video endoscopy can be performed on our high speed treadmill or in the horse’s natural environment using dynamic endoscopy.

Digital ultrasound also reveals the structure of the laryngeal cartilages, which affects respiratory function. These procedures, in combination with medical tests, can completely evaluate airway function.

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Our expertise

  • We offer laser surgery procedures to correct laryngeal hemiplegia (roaring), dorsal displacement of the soft palate, epiglottic entrapment, and arytenoid chondritis.

The advantage of laser surgery for treating airway disorders

  • Much more versatile than a scalpel, surgical lasers deliver light or heat to incise, coagulate, or vaporize tissue.
  • Laser surgical sites bleed and swell less than conventional surgical wounds. The carbon dioxide laser creates a clean, bloodless incision and can also vaporize tissue masses.
  • The Nd:YAG and diode lasers can be utilized with a video endoscope for upper airway surgery.
  • Surgical procedures performed with lasers can often be performed on standing horses on an outpatient basis. The horses leave with no external wound.


Scholarly research by EMC faculty members

Faculty members at the Equine Medical Center have conducted original research and published journal articles that have helped advance the study of upper airway disorders in horses. Below is a selection of their publications.

Appointments for upper airway evaluation

  • Respiratory evaluations are performed by appointment. For more information, call 703-771-6800 or email
  • View the Client Care Packet (PDF) to learn more about the facilities, services, staffing, and policies at the EMC.

Faculty clinician

Dr. Ken Sullins has over two decades of experience in performing laser surgery.