The Equine Centre has world class surgical facilities with two separate large animal surgical suites, one for general surgeries including colic surgery and one for special procedures requiring a higher level of sterility such as orthopaedic surgery. This theatre has a separate preparation area, filtered air-conditioning and air pressure gradients, and one way horse traffic.

All types of surgery are performed. Two common examples, colic surgery and arthroscopic surgery, as described below.

Colic surgery

Colic is due to anything that causes abdominal pain but it is more a sign of a problem than a diagnosis. Colic encompasses a wide variety of gastrointestinal problems but occasionally conditions affecting the urinary tract or reproductive organs may be the cause. The severity and seriousness of colic can increase quite rapidly, so it is important to have your horse examined by a veterinarian if you have suspicions that it has colic.

The Equine Centre has the ability to manage all types of colic cases, either medically or surgically. Assessment of a horse with colic can be difficult if the horse is in a lot of pain but careful examination to determine the best course of action is essential. Key steps include a rectal examination to detect distended or abnormally positioned bowel, passing a stomach tube to assess pressure in the stomach, ultrasound of the abdomen to identify unhealthy bowel and comprehensive emergency blood tests. Most of our colic cases are referred in and have usually been seen by another vet prior to arrival, although we will see first opinion colic cases.

Horses that have undergone colic surgery need intensive aftercare and around the clock monitoring usually for several days after surgery. We provide continuous intravenous fluid therapy monitored with in-house blood testing. Regular ultrasound is used to monitor the return of normal intestinal function. Pain relief is also important and is often provided with continuous intravenous infusions.

Hospitalisation time and prognosis will vary depending on the nature of colic, and whether the horse requires surgical or medical treatment. Our specialists can provide an indication of recovery time, costs involved and hospitalisation time, and will regularly update you on the progress of your horse.

Arthroscopic surgery

Arthroscopic surgery involves keyhole surgery techniques to remove bone chips, treat joint infections, investigate lameness and treat abnormal joint development in younger horses (OCD). An arthroscope (a very small camera) is inserted into the affected joint through a small incision. As most joints have multiple compartments, more than one insertion site may be required to thoroughly assess the entire joint. A second small incision is used to allow placement of an instrument into the joint to remove debris (chip fractures, cartilage flaps). We may use special motorised resectors or radiofrequency probes to remove unhealthy tissue where necessary. During the surgical procedure, the joint is constantly flushed with sterile fluid to remove smaller fragments and at the end of the surgery, the incisions in the skin are closed with simple sutures.

Arthroscopy allows rapid healing of joint incisions, reduces the risk of infection and post operative pain.

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