As many of you are aware we built an operating theatre at Turningshaw Farm 2 years ago. This has enabled the practice to provide a wide range of surgical procedures from arthroscopy (key-hole surgery of joints) to delicate eye surgery.
Over 400 operations have been performed at the practice in the last 4 years.
The only two procedures that we do not currently provide are colic surgery and the repair of complicated fractures. This is because of the 24 hour intensive care and sophisticated tools required for these operations of long bones. Horses requiring surgery for these conditions are referred to eitherthe Edinburgh or Glasgow vet schools.
Anaesthetised horses present unique challenges due to their weight, size and fractious nature. Following careful clinical assessment and injection of drugs to induce anaesthesia, the patient is winched from the padded ‘knock-down’ box on to the surgical table. This is anatomically designed to support the horse, protecting the head, neck and spine and minimising pressure on vital muscles. A large tube is inserted via the mouth through the larynx to gases that maintain the anaesthesia.
All anaesthetised horses are constantly monitored by an experienced veterinary anaesthetist, who records the heart rate and rhythm, the respiratory rate, and level of anaesthesia. Blood pressure is also continuously measured and appropriate medication given should it fall during the surgery. The patients also receive intravenous fluids throughout to prevent dehydration.
It is unfortunate that, despite such intensive monitoring and care, complications do occur. These range from mild muscle damage, caused by the horse’s own weight pressing on its ‘downside’ muscles, through to a horse that injures his spine or fractures a leg when recovering from the anaesthetic. Cardiac arrest is another devastating complication.
A large national survey (CEPEF) was carried out in the late 1990’s to establish the frequency of anaesthetic deaths and complications in equine veterinary practices over a 5-year period. This showed that the average UK rate of complications is 4 in every 100 horses anaesthetised. We take the care of your horses extremely seriously and the rate of complications at our practice is considerably lower than this at 1%. This reflects the high standards of care and monitoring afforded to all horses undergoing surgery at the Equine Veterinary Clinic.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
YOUR HORSE IS BEING ADMITTED FOR SURGERY
Your questions answered…
What will happen to my horse prior to surgery?
Your horse will be weighed, and their temperature, pulse and heart rate taken. They will have a catheter placed in their jugular vein for the administration of anesthetic drugs. He or she will have their mouth flushed, their tail bandaged, shoes removed, and their operation site clipped and sterilely cleaned.
What are the risks associated with surgery?
All operations that involve anesthesia carry a risk from injury during the induction and recovery, as well as from the drugs used and the surgery itself. Every effort is made to minimize these risks by careful monitoring during each stage of the procedure. Despite this, complications can occur but are fortunately rare and limited to between 1% and 3% of operations.
How long will my horses operation take?
The nature of your horse’s condition will determine how long the operation will take. There is also time spent on preparatory work detailed above and the induction of, and recovery from anesthesia. The surgery is not considered complete until your horse has recovered from the anesthetic and has been returned to his or her stable.
When will the surgeon contact me?
The surgeon will not contact you until your horse has recovered from the anesthetic and been returned to its stable. There may be several operations taking place that day and please be aware that the surgeon might not be free to call until the last horse has recovered. We would ask that you refrain from phoning during the day to check on progress. The surgeon is the only person that knows precisely how the operation has gone and he or she will talk to you in detail as soon as they are available.
How long will my horse need to stay in the clinic after surgery?
This will depend on your horse’s condition and the surgeon will discuss this after the operation.
What will I need to know when I get my horse home?
Full written instructions detailing your horse’s aftercare will be given when he or she is discharged from the clinic.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions.