Study: A Follow-Up Exam of Horses with Sinonasal Disease is Worthwhile

Sinonasal disease is challenging to treat, which is why some surgeons voluntarily choose to take a "second look" a few days after surgery to ensure nothing was initially overlooked.

"Surgery is often the treatment of choice and is usually performed by creating a flap, or 'window,' in the bone overlying the frontonasal (relating to both frontal and nasal bones) or maxillary sinuses," explained Samantha Hart, DVM, BVMS (Hons), MS, Dipl. ACVS, fellow in the department of clinical sciences at the New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania.

Even still, access to the sinuses via the bone flap is limited, and the surgical field is often bloody, which can impair even the most talented surgeon when attempting to diagnose and treat sinus disease in the horse. 

Considering these surgical dilemmas, some surgeons elect to sedate the horse and reopen the sinus bone flaps to have a second look a few days after surgery. However, the question remains, is the added expense, labor, and stress on the horse worthwhile?

To answer this question, Hart and Ken Sullins, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, professor of equine surgery at Marion duPont Scott, retrospectively reviewed the records of 91 horses with sinonasal disease that underwent surgery and had a follow-up examination performed a few days later.

"Our data indicate that reexamining a horse with sinonsal disease postsurgically in a controlled environment is a safe and effective means to thoroughly assess and treat sinonasal disease," relayed Hart.

Specifically, 39 of the 91 horses (43%) required further treatment. These horses likely would have been discharged from the hospital without the needed treatment if the second examination had not been performed.

"Longer-term complications and recurrence rates of sinonasal diseases may be reduced if horses are reexamined post-surgically and prior to discharge, especially in cases of ethmoid hematoma, sinus cyst, or neoplasia," concluded Hart. This is clearly a case where the second time's a charm.

The study, "Evaluation of a novel post operative treatment for sinonasal disease in the horse (1996-2007)," will be published in an upcoming edition of the Equine Veterinary Journal.

About the Author

Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she's worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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