Arytenoid chondritis

Veterinary advice should be sought before applying any treatment or vaccine.

Arytenoid Chondritis


Arytenoid chondritis is a progressive inflammatory condition of the horse's arytenoid cartilages. The arytenoid cartilages are paired flaps of cartilage that lie at the opening to the trachea or windpipe.
Arytenoid chondritis horses
During inspiration, these flaps are pulled apart to allow as much air as possible to pass through the trachea and into the lungs. They then return to a semi-open position during expiration.

There are three clinical presentations of arytenoid chondritis in horses, including: simple mucosal ulceration, granulomas, and cartilage deformity. It is the size of the granulomas or enlargement of the body of the arytenoid which determines the presence and severity of the obstruction of the airway. Chondritic arytenoid cartilages are significantly larger and abnormal in shape compared to arytenoid cartilage in normal horses.

Signs of Arytenoid Chondritis

Arytenoid chondritis most commonly presents in horses as reduced athletic performance and respiratory stridor, as a result of upper airway dysfunction. Horses with arytenoid chondritis can have similar symptoms and histories as horses with laryngeal hemiplegia (roarers).

Arytenoid Chondritis Treatment Options

The most common treatment for arytenoid chondritis involves surgery. Medical therapy is also sometimes performed, which includes administering broad-spectrum antibiotics and placement of a tracheostomy tube.


Abnormal respiratory noise during exercise
Progressive exercise intolerance
Difficulty breathing during exercise
Cough when exerted


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Endoscopy
  • Ultrasonography
  • MRI



SurgerySurgical removal of affected cartilages from the larynx or tracheostomy. There are complications associated with surgical treatment of arytenoid chondritis. Some horses will develop an intermittent to persistent cough when eating.
Medical therapyBroad-spectrum antibiotics and placement of a tracheostomy tube. Treatment is rarely curative.


Scientific Research

General Overviews

Age Range

Most frequently diagnosed in young racehorses between 2 and 4 years of age. It can also occur in middle aged to older horses, but often goes unnoticed until it is quite advanced unless the horse performs an athletic function.