Two University of Illinois faculty members who are boarded in veterinary emergency and critical care recently published their findings showing that the blood of horses differs substantially from that of humans and dogs when a diagnostic tool called thromboelastometry is used to assess the status of blood flow and coagulation. Their work should improve clinicians’ ability to use thromboelastometry effectively in the care of critically ill horses.

The process by which the body halts bleeding and begins healing is called hemostasis. Through this complex process, the body essentially forms an organic Band-Aid. Factors such as disease, medications, and other conditions can affect hemostasis, which is why doctors in both human and veterinary medicine need ways to evaluate the status of this process in the patient.

In horses common diseases such as colic, colitis, endotoxemia, and sepsis are associated with alteration of the hemostatic pathway, leading to coagulation abnormalities in these horses. It is critical in these patients to have the ability to assess their current blood clotting situation for successful treatment.

Recently Maureen McMichael, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVECC, and Pamela Wilkins, DVM, MS, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, ACVECC, directed a study in order to further evaluate thromboelastometry for clinical use with horses. Stephanie Smith, DVM, MS, another faculty member at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, and Tanya Rossi, DVM, a veterinary intern, also contributed to this study.

Thromboelastometry is a method that allows kinetic observation, in real time, of clots forming and dissolving.

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