Complications associated with equine castrations occur commonly and should be indentified and treated properly in the field, relayed Liberty M. Getman, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, from the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center. She presented "Review of castration complications: Strategies for treatment in the field" at the American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 5-9 in Las Vegas, Nev.

Even though castration (removal of the testicles) is the most commonly performed surgical procedure in equine practice, it does not mean it is simple or without risk.

"Approximately one-third of all castrations develop some form of post-surgical complication, and these complications constitute the number one reason of malpractice claims against North American veterinarians," said Getman.

Postoperative castration complications that veterinarians see most often include:

  • Swelling;
  • Infection;
  • Hemorrhage;
  • Eventration (evisceration, protrusion of intestine through the inguinal ring into the scrotum);
  • Peritonitis (inflammation of the lining of the abdominal and pelvic cavities);
  • Damage to the penis; and
  • Hydrocele formation (a collection of fluid in a cavity; in this case fluid within the vaginal cavity, where the testicle resided).

"Prompt recognition of post-castration complications and expedited application of appropriate treatment is essential in all cases," concluded Getman. "Most cases can be successfully managed in the field, but some cases will require referral to an equine hospital for advanced treatment."

Details regarding field management strategies for the above-described complications were described in Getman's full-length abstract, which is available in the conference proceedings.

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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