Susan Piscopo, DVM, PhD

Susan Piscopo, DVM, PhD, is a free-lance writer in the biomedical sciences. She practiced veterinary medicine in North Carolina before accepting a fellowship to pursue a PhD in physiology at North Carolina State University. She lives in northern New Jersey with her husband and two sons.

Articles by Susan Piscopo

Evaluating Spinal Cord Disease

Spinal cord disease in horses is fairly common, but it can be difficult to precisely diagnose. Ancillary tests such as cerebrospinal fluid analysis, contrast myelography, and electromyelography can be helpful, but also somewhat risky. There is Read More

Flea Control Product for Fungal Endometritis in Mares

Lufenuron is a once-a-month flea control product for dogs and cats. The active ingredient inhibits chitin production; chitin is a component of the outer surface of many insects. Fungal organisms also contain chitin in their cell walls, making Read More

Conservative Therapy for Crooked Foals

The most common angular limb deformity in foals is carpus valgus (sometimes called toeing out) in which affected foals have limbs that flare outward below the carpus (knee). This deformity can be corrected surgically with hemi-circumferential Read More

Intravenous Nutrition for Colicky Horses

Horses which survive an episode of severe colic can be temporarily unable to eat. Anorexia, nasal regurgitation, and ileus (lack of bowel movement) prevent oral feeding. After several days of malnutrition, the horse's ability to heal is impaired Read More

Blood Test for Ovarian Tumors

Granulosa-theca cell tumors (GTCTs) are usually tentatively diagnosed by rectal palpation and ultrasound examination after an owner complains of poor performance or aggressive, sexual, stallion-like behaviors. However, the diagnosis can't be Read More

Lasers for Removing Skin Masses

Skin masses in horses have historically been removed by surgical excision (cutting them out). Regardless of the type of mass, the surgeon's goal is to remove all of the tissue, limit hemorrhage, and prevent infection while achieving the best Read More

Treating Shoulder Lameness

There is an uncommon type of shoulder lameness in horses that produces a dropped elbow and flexing of the carpus (knee) and pastern at rest. At work, affected horses are typically severely lame with a significantly decreased forward phase of the Read More

Predicting Muscle Problems

Competitive endurance riders know that horses lose fluids and electrolytes during strenuous rides. Calcium and magnesium are also lost during prolonged aerobic exercise. Low blood calcium (hypocalcemia) allows sodium to enter nerve cells, leadin Read More

Antimicrobials in Colic Surgery

Colic surgery in horses is classified as a "clean contaminated" procedure because incisions into the intestine can allow bacteria to contaminate the sterile abdomen. Thus, prophylactic (preventive) antibiotic therapy is often administered prior Read More

Exercise and Bone Development

Beneath the smooth surface of articular cartilage, subchondral bone gives structural support to joints. Normally, newborn foals have a lot of water in this layer, which is slowly replaced by calcium and collagen as the foal weights his joints. Read More

Joint Disease Model

Horse owners are familiar with the devastating effects of osteoarthritis (OA) in performance horses. Methods to detect OA earlier, treat it more effectively, and slow its course are heavily researched. One problem, however, is the lack of an Read More

Chronic Uterine Torsion in Mares

In late pregnancy, mares are susceptible to a dangerous complication called uterine torsion. Accounting for 5-10% of obstetrical emergencies, twisting of the uterus can be fatal to fetus and mare if left untreated. The hallmark of acute uterine Read More

Foal Sex Selection

Sex selection of foals prior to conception is highly desirable for horse breeders. Currently, sperm can be sorted by their X and Y chromosomes, improving odds of sex selection through artificial insemination. Flow cytometry measures DNA in cells Read More

Cardiovascular Changes With Moldy Corn Poisoning

Fumonisins are toxic byproducts of the fungus Fusarium verticilloides, which often grows on corn. These mycotoxins can cause leukoencephalomalacia (moldy corn poisoning) in horses, and are undetectable to the naked eye. Horses exposed to Read More

Clostridium in Mares and Foals

Newborn foals are especially susceptible to gastrointestinal diseases such as clostridial enterocolitis, which is characterized by abdominal pain, diarrhea, toxemia, shock, or death without prior signs. While this disease occurs only Read More

Horse Health at AVMA

The annual convention of the American Veterinary Medical Association, held July 13-17, drew practitioners from around the world. One topic of particular timeliness was the growing use of extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) for various Read More

Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy and Back Pain

As many as 40% of all cases of equine back pain are the result of soft tissue injury. The primary causes include chronic and recurrent exertional rhabdomyolysis (CER and RER, respectively), and an inherited enzyme deficiency called polysaccharid Read More

Preventing Airway Obstruction

During periods of intense exercise, portions of the upper airway can collapse, interfering with breathing. The cause of these obstructive episodes, most notably dorsal displacement of the soft palate (DDSP), is yet unknown. In other species, Read More

Breathe Easier!

When Anne Thomas called me to her ranch house early one spring morning, she said it was urgent. Her 5-year-old horse, Charlie, was having trouble breathing. When I arrived at the barn, I could see the bay gelding standing in the middle of his Read More

Screening for Joint Disease

Veterinarians are quite capable of identifying a painful joint in a lame horse, but determining what is occurring within the joint and how far it has progressed is not yet possible without removing synovial fluid or exploring the joint with Read More

Fatigue in Racehorses

While visibly obvious, fatigue is hard to quantify. Electromyography (EMG) measures conduction along nerves in a particular muscle group--as muscle fibers fatigue, EMG signals shift from high to low. Taking EMG readings during galloping is Read More

Laryngeal Paralysis

Partial paralysis of the larynx prevents maximal opening of the equine trachea. Affected horses can move air, but breathing noises occur, especially during exercise. The most common form of laryngeal paralysis is recurrent laryngeal neuropathy Read More

Modifying Semen Extender

Stallion semen is particularly susceptible to freeze-thaw damage, so multi-step procedures are being developed and evaluated to slowly extend and cool the semen prior to freezing it. In addition, the common semen extender INRA82, developed at Read More

Joint Fusion to Eliminate Lameness

Joint arthrodesis is a procedure that locks a joint by fusing bones together. The procedure is used in the pastern joint of horses to treat lameness due to severe osteoarthritis, fractures, bone cysts, and various limb deformities in foals. Read More

Acupuncture and Microdose Prostaglandin in the Mare

Prostaglandin F2 alpha (PG) is used to shorten a mare's cycle and hasten ovulation for breeding. Unfortunately, the standard PG dose (5 mg) also causes undesirable side effects, including sweating, trembling, increased heart rate, and Read More