SIRS Scoring System Useful in Assessing Equine Emergencies

A recently developed scoring system can help veterinarians make treatment recommendations, researchers say.
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SIRS Scoring System Useful in Assessing Equine Emergencies
Horses that were scored SIRS3 or SIRS4 had abnormal mucous membranes and/or increased blood lactate concentration. | Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
Horse health emergencies require major care decisions, often quickly and while under emotional strain. Treating veterinarians can help guide these decisions based on their diagnostic workup.

Recently, researchers led by Marie-France Roy, DMV, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, collaborated to develop and test a scoring system. Roy, an associate professor of equine internal medicine at the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, in Alberta, Canada, said this scoring system can aid veterinarians in making treatment recommendations. The scoring system is also useful to veterinarians when they’re discussing a horse’s clinical status and prognosis with the owner, which can in turn help them together reach a consensus about the best course of medical or surgical action.

The scoring system is based on whether the veterinarian has diagnosed the patient with systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) upon admission for, or during, emergency treatment. The syndrome is a clinical response to nonspecific insult of either infectious or noninfectious origin; in simpler terms SIRS can be caused by a number insults, including deficient blood supply to part of the body, inflammation, trauma, infection, or a combination of these factors.

“SIRS describes the state of a patient in which the inflammatory response is no longer localized but, rather, has spread to the whole body/immune system,” Roy said

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Karen Brittle, MA, is passionate about sharing her life-long love for horses, learning, and teaching with others. She is certified as an advanced instructor by the Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.). She is also a freelance equestrian journalist and has translated several horse books from German into English.

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