In the past, horses were often brought under general anaesthesia for surgery. As a result, the horse was operated on lying down. Waking up from general anaesthesia is one of the riskiest parts of equine surgery. The medications used cause weakness and disorientation, which makes standing up after surgery a challenge. For example, it sometimes happens that the horse will injure themselves so badly that euthanasia is required after an initially successful operation.
RISKS OF ANAESTHESIA
Nowadays, local anaesthesia is increasingly being used, so that the horse can remain standing up during the operation. According to Kayla Le, of the Department of Surgical Sciences at the University of Wisconsin Madison, the number of equine surgical procedures continues to grow. Because the horse can remain standing up, more treatment options are possible. This is because the risks associated with general anaesthesia disappear. As a result, the horse does not have to get up after anaesthesia and the equine surgeon has a better view during the surgery.
A precondition of a standing surgery is that the horse must be able to remain stable and comfortable enough to remain standing during the operation. A risk is that the horse will be conscious before the surgery, which means that they can continue to move despite the sedation and anaesthesia. In addition, it is more challenging to maintain a sterile surgical field and it requires different facilities and more staff.
Each patient must therefore be assessed individually and the benefits must outweigh the disadvantages. However, the research shows that more and more surgeries are performed standing and the number of surgeries continues to grow.