The choice is often made to geld a stallion, especially when he has no added value for sport and/or breeding. No matter how well and carefully a vet works, there is always the risk of complications with operations. The same goes for gelding. In this article we discuss the most common complications of gelding.
Swelling of the scrotum and/or sheath is probably the most common complication of a gelding operation. A slight swelling of this area is normal and will disappear on its own after a few days. If the swelling is larger than normal, this may be because too much tissue was damaged during the operation. It can also be because the wound fluid cannot be drained properly, for example because the wound closed too early. This causes the fluid to accumulate and cause swelling. In addition, swelling can occur if the horse does not get enough exercise during the first 24 hours or if there is an infection.
A light, limited bleeding after gelding is normal, you should think in terms of a few drops. As a general rule, you can say that there is abnormal bleeding if you cannot count the drops 15 minutes after the gelding operation (i.e. a trickle). Is this the case or do you have any doubts? Then contact the vet immediately. It may be wise to place the horse in an empty stable or on wood shavings/flax, so that you can monitor how much blood the horse is losing. In case of heavy bleeding, there may be a spermatic cord haemorrhage. In rare cases, the bleeding can also occur internally. This is dangerous, because the horse loses more blood than is visible on the outside. It is therefore important to keep a close eye on the horse after treatment of the bleeding. If the condition continues to deteriorate despite treatment, there may be internal bleeding.
Bacterial contamination can cause infections in the scrotum. The scrotum will then become swollen and pus may seep from the wound(s). Bacterial contamination can occur during gelding if, for example, the vet does not work sufficiently sterile. But it can also happen after gelding, if the wounds are not yet completely closed. In addition to the scrotum, the spermatic cord stump can also become infected. There may also be swelling and pus. In its early stages, this can be treated with antibiotics, but in some cases a second surgery may be necessary. The infected tissue is then removed.
The risk of complications can initially be reduced if the vet is careful and correct. In addition, the aftercare of the gelding is important. Ensure that the risk of infection is reduced by keeping the stable, pasture and/or paddock as clean as possible. Give them plenty of (free) exercise, which will help reduce swelling. Do not work too intensively with them during the first two weeks, this in turn increases the chance of the intestines herniating through the wound. Monitoring the temperature is also important to have an indication of their overall health. When in doubt, contact your vet so that you can treat any complications in the early stages.