What to Expect with Standing Enucleations

Veterinarians have the option of removing an equine eye without the risks associated with general anesthesia.

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While severe equine eye injuries or disorders can be gruesome in appearance, they generally aren’t life-threatening. Thanks to medical and technological advances, veterinarians can now treat eye issues more effectively than they have in the past. But if treatment fails, veterinarians also have the option of removing the eye without the risks associated with general anesthesia using a procedure called a standing enucleation.

At the 2013 American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Convention, held Dec. 7-11 in Nashville, Tenn., Wendy Townsend, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVO, assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, reviewed how to perform a standing enucleation and what to expect.

Townsend said the standing eye removal surgery is a reasonable alternative to enucleations performed under general anesthesia, but case selection is critical to success—not every horse is a good candidate for this procedure. The standing procedure could benefit large, lame, or geriatric horses that could be at-risk for complications when recovering from general anesthesia, she said. Case selection should also take into account the horse’s temperament (calmer is better), the degree of discomfort (less painful eyes are better), and the extent of surgery (procedures involving resection and reconstruction—such as eye removals related to neoplasia, or tumors—aren’t good candidates for the standing procedure), she added

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Written by:

Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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