Equine Castration Complications Reviewed

Researchers found that, overall, complications associated with castration were mild in nature.
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Equine Castration Complications Reviewed
Although castrations are routine procedures for many equine practitioners, the risk for complications remains. | Photo: Isabelle Kilcoyne
Although castrations are routine procedures for many equine practitioners, the risk for complications remains. And while most complications are generally mild, some have life-threatening implications. To better understand these complications, a University of California, Davis (UC Davis), research team recently took a closer look at their prevalence and outcomes.

“Complications that result from castration, including scrotal swelling, edema (fluid swelling), hemorrhage, incisional infections, bacterial infection of the spermatic cord, omental (the omentum is a fold of the abdominal tissue surrounding the organs) herniation, eventration (a segment of small intestine travels from the abdomen down through the inguinal canal), penile trauma, hydrocele formation (a collection of fluid within the vaginal cavity, where the testicle resided), and peritonitis (inflammation of the membrane lining the abdomen) have been reported,” explained Isabelle Kilcoyne, MVB. “Most postoperative complications are mild and not considered life-threatening, but eventration, hemorrhage, and peritonitis may be fatal.”

To gain a better understanding of complication rates and to identify possible risk factors, Kilcoyne, an equine surgery resident at UC Davis’ William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH), and colleagues conducted a retrospective study in which they reviewed castration complications in an ambulatory practice over a 10-year period.

“A complete understanding of these factors can help veterinarians minimize the development of these complications and treat them more effectively when they do occur,” she said

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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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