Horses recover from general anesthesia following removal of an eye (enucleation) equally well as horses recovering from other types of surgeries, reported veterinarians and surgeons from the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center during a presentation at the 2009 American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Convention, held Dec. 6-9 in Las Vegas, Nev.

"One published study previously reported that horses undergoing ocular surgeries had an increased risk of experiencing poor recoveries from general anesthesia, which is in contrast to our anecdotal experiences at New Bolton," relayed Liberty M. Getman, DVM, Dipl. ACVS.

To more objectively assess the situation, Getman and colleagues retrospectively reviewed records of horses that underwent enucleation between 2006 and 2008. These horses were matched with similar aged horses undergoing surgery and general anesthesia. These cases included routine, elective procedures such as arthroscopies, upper airway surgeries, mass removals, and dental procedures.

Descriptors of the horses' recoveries were used to assign a "recovery score" to each horse, using a scale ranging from 1 to 5, with 1 being the best (horse stood easily with one attempt during recovery from anesthesia) and 5 being the worst (horse could not stand without sling support or sustained significant injury during recovery).

Getman and her colleagues found:

  • There was no statistically significant difference in surgery time, anesthesia time, or recovery time between the two groups; and
  • There was no statistically significant difference in recovery scores existed between the enucleated horses and the control group.

"As we hypothesized, there is no difference in recoveries between horses undergoing enculeations compared to those undergoing surgery for other reasons," concluded Getman.

The research abstract was titled: "Evaluation of recovery from anesthesia in horses after enucleation compared with other surgical procedures."

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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