Study Compares Castration Methods

Even considering the higher potential for complications, castrations performed in the field are still less expensive (including complications) than sterile procedures performed in a hospital setting, according a United Kingdom study.

The study compared these two methods of castration: Standing horse with a non-sutured incision, and recumbent using general anesthesia in sterile conditions with the incision sutured. The study, published in the September edition of the <I>Equine Veterinary Journal<I>, was in response to growing number of owners electing to use a sterile procedure under general anaesthesia because they thought the cost would prove to be less in the long run, according to researcher Ben Mason, BVSc.

Researchers compared the data (initial procedure costs and future cost from complications) from two groups of castrated horses (217 total), over 18 months. Horses in the first group (121) were castrated using a standing non-sutured method; while, horses in the second group (96) were castrated in the hospital under general anaesthesia.

The first group reported complications such as scrotal infection (the most common), hemorrhaging, hind limb lameness, fever, and diarrhea in 22% of the cases. The second group reported a 6% complication rate; however, one horse was euthanatized because he fractured his tibia during recovery.

"The study proved that the veterinary costs of treating these complications post standing castration was still less expensive," said Mason. The cost of a field castration with complications is less than two-thirds of the hospital castration without complications.

Mason prefers a standing castration surgery because it's less expensive, more flexible time-wise and can be done at the clients premises. Sterile surgery involves shipping the horse to the hospital, remaining there for at least three days, and recovery risks. However, there is far less aftercare following a sterile castration in a hospital. "There is no need for daily scrotal hosing, controlled exercise program, checking for swelling, or risk of evisceration (protrusion of organs through the wound)," Mason explained.

"Post-castration management is essential to reduce the complication frequency," Mason explained. "With good communication and guidance with the owner/trainer, a satisfactory outcome is usually achieved."

About the Author

Chad Mendell

Chad Mendell is the former Managing Editor for TheHorse.com .

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