Barbaro "Stable," Has Laminitis

In early- to mid-July, Barbaro developed "acute, severe" laminitis in his uninjured left hind foot, and his prognosis for recovery was pronounced "poor" by Dean Richardson, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, chief of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa.

In the weeks following this announcement, New Bolton officials have consistently reported the colt is "stable," with good vital signs and a strong appetite. The bandage on the laminitic foot has been changed daily and the foot checked for infection.

Speaking at a press conference on July 13, Richardson stated that Barbaro's laminitis is "as bad a case as you can get." In a resection procedure completed July 12, a large portion of Barbaro's hoof wall was removed, and just 20% of the wall remained attached to the coffin bone, according to Richardson. His left hind leg was placed in a foam cast as they began attempting to re-grow the hoof wall.

Barbaro suffered major complications the previous week and underwent three surgical procedures during that time. On July 8, Richardson replaced the titanium plate and 27 screws and treated two infections--one in the injured right hind leg and a small abscess on the sole of his left hind hoof. Barbaro shattered his right hind leg at the beginning of the May 20 Preakness Stakes and underwent surgery the following day at New Bolton.

Richardson said the July 13 press conference was called because of the great concern, speculation, and interest in Barbaro. He dismissed rumors of impending euthanasia, but added that the horse's prognosis had diminished.

According to Richardson, Barbaro has stability in his right rear leg, and that injury is under "reasonable control. But the big problem is a catastrophic case of laminitis in his left hind. With laminitis, the connection between the bone and hoof separates, and that can be excruciatingly painful, like re-growing a nail in humans after it's been pulled out. Horses do recover from this, but it's a longshot. I'm not going to sugarcoat the situation. It is a poor percentage for horses to recover, but as long as he's not suffering, we will continue to try."

Richardson said recovery, if it occurs, would take many months. For now, Barbaro appears comfortable. "He nickers, he's eating well, he has excellent G.I. function, his temperature is normal, his heart rate is good, and he is capable of walking around his stall," said Richardson. "His owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, and his trainer, Michael Matz, visit him daily, and the Jacksons' absolute concern--their only concern--is for the comfort of the horse on a daily basis. We will go on as long as the horse acts normally."

Barbaro is in a sling for portions of each day to aid in his mobility. He is also undergoing what Richardson termed "an aggressive pain management regimen."

On July 28, Richardson took new radiographs to check healing progress after his right hind leg cast was changed on July 26. "They look good," reported Richardson, "No problems were evident."

Barbaro continues to receive well wishes and gifts from fans across the world as he recovers in New Bolton's intensive care unit.--Lenny Shulman and The Horse staff

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