|First Posted Nov 11, 2009|
Jul 25, 2010
by Debora Johnson
What is a guttural pouch? It is not really that easy to define a horse's guttural pouch. It is understood where it is located and how the anatomy presents; however, much of what a guttural pouch does remains somewhat of a mystery. The horses's guttural pouch is an "air-filled out-pouching of the auditory or Eustachian tube. While all mammals have auditory tubes, not all have these pouches. Horses, mules and donkeys have the largest, with one pouch lying on each side of the back of the throat." The Mysterious Guttural Pouch The pouches contain arteries, some cranial nerves: facial, glossopharyngeal, vagus, accessory, and hypoglossal.
Disease of the Guttural PouchSince guttural pouches are not sterile, have a thin membrane, and because they have a connection to the Eustachian tubes - middle ear, pharynx, the rear of the mouth and nasal passages, the larynx and esophagus, the guttural pouch can become diseased.
Theories About Other Uses of Horse's Guttural Pouch
It was once thought that perhaps the guttural pouch functioned as a regulator for pressure changes. However, now it is thought that the guttural pouch acts as a cooling device for the horse's brain..."Researchers now believe that heat is removed from the exercising horse's brain via transfer from the blood to the air in the guttural pouch and then out through the pharynx. This mechanism also provides a clue as to why diseases occur in this anatomical area and why those diseases can be deadly..." The Mysterious Guttural Pouch
Diagnosis of Guttural Pouch Disease:
Guttural Pouch disease is a really nasty problem. It is imperative that your vet be called immediately before many complications may arise as the disease progresses.
For More Information:
Western Horseman Magazine/January 2001. An excellent reference article.