Vets Validate Standing Thyroid Removal Procedure for Horses

Researchers say the standing technique minimizes risk to the patient, reduces costs to the client, and limits complications.

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Thyroidectomy in Horses
An ultrasonographic image obtained in the middle third of a unilateral thyroid mass. The image shows the blood vessels supplying the thyroid mass (red and blue). Note the well define fibrous capsule surrounding the mass (arrows). | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Marco Marcatili

Diseased thyroids can cause respiratory distress, limited head and neck movement, and unsightly lumps in affected horses’ throat areas. In such cases veterinarians usually remove the thyroid under general anesthesia, but researchers recently developed a thyroidectomy technique for use in standing horses with simple sedation and local anesthesia. The results, they say, are a win-win for everyone.

“Our technique minimizes risk to the patient, reduces costs to the client, and limits complications arising from the procedure,” said Marco Marcatili, DVM, PhD, MRCVS, of the University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine’s Weipers Centre Equine Hospital, in Scotland, and Pool House Equine Clinic in Lichfield, U.K.

Specifically, the researchers noted a marked reduction in the risk of recurrent laryngeal nerve neuropathy (RLNN, also known as “roaring”) after standing thyroidectomy compared to traditional thyroidectomy with the horse lying down under general anesthesia

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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