Researchers Develop Equine Field Ventilation System

anesthesiologists from the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna have recently developed and tested a device for large animal ventilation in a field setting, such as during castrations.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Respiratory or cardiovascular arrest in horses in the field has been a challenging problem for veterinarians, as conventional ventilators require electricity and compressed air to function. But anesthesiologists from the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna have recently developed and tested a simple and inexpensive device for large animal ventilation in a field emergency.

Yves Moens, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ECVAA, of the Clinical Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Intensive Care, and colleagues developed a handy ventilation pump for large animals. The device is similar to bellows used to inflate air mattresses, and is designed to be easy to carry use. Should a horse suffer a respiratory arrest during field surgery, for example, the veterinarian can intubate the animal on site by inserting a breathing tube into the trachea of the animal. Then the ventilator pump is connected and operated with the foot.

An adult horse needs 5 to 6 liters or air to take in sufficient oxygen for a breath, but a correspondingly large bellows would be too large to be easily operated by one person, the team said. The new ventilator has an air volume of 2.5 liters, but the researchers showed that using the new pump several times in quick succession was successful in providing sufficient air to five Haflingers during field castration surgery.

Moens said the respiration pump's development allows for safer anesthesia large animals in the field. The respiratory pump is inexpensive to manufacture and can provide veterinarians with the opportunity to adequately treat horses in respiratory distress, he said.

The study, "A commercial foot pump for emergency ventilation of horses, proof-of-principle field during equine anesthesia," was recently published in Equine Veterinary Education

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