Scar Tissue Issues In Horses May Be Resolved With Standing Surgery

A horse that has experienced a hind-end injury such as a kick, fall or other trauma can develop a mechanical restriction from scar tissue that does not allow him to take normal strides, called a fibrotic myopathy, which can affect his athletic ability. The condition, which is not usually painful, is diagnosed by palpation and ultrasound around the horse’s thigh.

The veterinary hospital at the University of California, Davis, did a retrospective study that used 22 horses with the condition that had a standing fibrotic myotomy performed. Drs. Charlene Noll, Isabelle Kilcoyne, Betsy Vaughan and Larry Galuppo reviewed the horse’s long-term comfort and return to athletic endeavors.

Tenotomy is a more-standard treatment for this type of issue, but a standing myotomy is less expensive and less invasive. The horse can also be moved about during the procedure to assess the response to the incision into the fibrotic tissue.

Only two of the horses in the study developed complications during the surgery. There were additional complications in 18 percent of the horses, which included issues with drainage or infection that caused sutures to reopen.

After the surgery, the horses were on stall rest for two weeks and hand walked for 10 minutes three times a day. Once sutures were removed, the horses began trotting for five minutes each day and work was increased incrementally from there.

Four weeks after the surgery, canter work was added to the rehabilitation program. Passive range of motion exercises were also recommended twice daily throughout the rehabilitation time. Two months after the surgery, the horses could go back to regular work and could get turned out.

Follow up calls and questionnaires were sent to the horse owners between 6 months and 11 years after the surgery was performed. Ten of the 16 owners said they were satisfied with the long-term outcome of the surgery. Eight of the horses had a recurrence of issues, and eight of the 12 athletic horses returned to their previous level of use.  The other four athletic horses needed repeat surgery.

The research team concluded that standing myotomy for fibrotic myopathy leads to fair outcomes with minimal complications, but proper rehabilitation was imperative to the surgery’s success.

Read the full article here.

Read more at EquiManagement.

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