Objectives: To determine temporal variations of pulmonary function in horses without respiratory tract disease (controls) and horses with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and determine whether reversibility of airway obstruction after environmental control can be predicted by response to atropine administration.
Animals: 7 COPD-affected and 5 control horses.
Procedures: Pulmonary function testing was performed monthly during 3 consecutive months, daily for 5 consecutive days, and at 6-hour intervals for 24 hours before and after administration of atropine (0.02 mg/kg of body weight, i.v.) and after 5 consecutive months at pasture. Respiratory rate, tidal volume (VT), minute ventilation (VE), maximal change in transpulmonary pressure (deltaP(L)), pulmonary resistance (R(L)), and pulmonary elastance (E(L)) were calculated.
Results: COPD-affected horses had a significantly higher expiratory to inspiratory time ratio (T(E)/T(I)) and deltaP(L), E(L), and R(L) than horses without respiratory tract diseases during all periods and higher V(E) during monthly and daily evaluations. Daily variation in VT and monthly and circadian variation in E(L) were significant in COPD-affected horses. In control horses, significant changes were apparent only in T(E)/T(I) during daily recordings. In COPD-affected horses, reduction in deltaP(L), R(L), and E(L) was significant after atropine administration and after maintenance on pasture.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: Despite variations in measurements of respiratory mechanics in both groups of horses, values remained significantly different between groups over time. Despite individual variation, measurements were repeatable during short and long periods. Response to administration of atropine to COPD-affected horses underestimated improvement in respiratory tract function that resulted from maintenance on pasture.