Castration and Caslick's procedures generally come to mind at the mention of reproductive surgeries that can be performed in the field, but Dwayne Rodgerson, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, of Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, says there are plenty of other reproductive surgeries that he performs in the field on a regular basis.
"I like them (reproductive surgeries)," he said. "They're relaxed and routine. But the biggest problem is sometimes they fail."

Rodgerson offered tips for successful reproductive surgeries to veterinarians at the 2006 Hagyard Bluegrass Equine Symposium, which was held Oct. 18-21 in Lexington, Ky.

Rodgerson described approaches for correcting the following problems in the female horse:

  • Pneumovagina Vagina aspirates air; can be corrected with Caslick's procedure;
  • Urovagina (urine pooling) Can be corrected with urethroplasty;
  • Rectovaginal lacerations Can heal on their own or be corrected with Caslick's or a more intensive procedure that repairs the recto-vaginal shelf; and
  • Cervical lacerations Can be repaired with sutures.

The most important part of preparing a mare for reproductive surgery is having a set of sturdy standing stocks. "When you're at the back end of a horse, you need a good kickboard, and even with those, be careful," said Rodgerson.

It's crucial to consider the safety of the veterinarian and the horse throughout the duration of these surgeries.

"If you're giving an epidural to the mare, you should give it time to work (10-15 minutes), and be careful when you walk them after the surgery," he advised. "Use wide turns, and put them out in a paddock (to recover from the epidural). Otherwise, they can fall and potentially get injured seriously. Don't ship these horses for 24 hours."

Other tips he offered were to have a good vaginal speculum to offer dorsal retraction. These speculums can be made easily. He recommended keeping a mare's stool soft (using hydration and drugs) following surgery so she doesn't damage the repaired region when defecating.

In the male, Rodgerson described these procedures:

  • Castration;
  • Circumcision Required because of neoplasms, granulomas, and scar tissue from the preputial membrane;
  • Amputation of the penis Required due to invasive neoplastic lesions, granulomas, paralysis that keeps the stallion from retracting his penis, or priapism--prolonged erection; and
  • Correction of inguinal herniation Can be congenital or acquired.

Rodgerson discussed anesthesia types required to perform each procedure, the specific techniques involved, and post-operative care. He performs castration more often than the other procedures, and says that complications are rare. So no matter the routine nature of the procedure, the owner should keep vigilant watch of the patient during the hours and days following the surgery.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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