Standing Fibrotic Myopathy Surgery for Horses Showing Promise

Researchers found that standing surgery results were at least as good as those of surgeries performed under general anesthesia. The new procedure also allows better surgical access to the target tissues, they said.

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fibrotic myopathy in horses
Of the six performance horses treated with the team's new standing procedure, five returned to their preinjury level of sport. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. David G. Suarez-Fuentes

When fibrous tissue forms over horses’ hind hamstring tendons, they can develop gait abnormalities. The treatment of choice over the past 30 years for this “fibrotic myopathy” has been slicing the tendon—a procedure known as a tenotomy. But having horses lying down under general anesthesia hasn’t been ideal for performing the surgery.

That’s why equine surgeons in Iowa recently investigated the benefits and effectiveness of performing tenotomy of the semitendinosus muscle (part of the hamstring group) in standing, sedated horses. They found that the results are encouraging—at least as good as they are in surgeries under general anesthesia. And they also allow better surgical access to the target tissues.

“The increased ease of tendon palpation compared to the horse under general anesthesia makes the procedure quicker and easier, leading to smaller incisions and decreased soft tissue dissection surrounding the tenotomy site,” said David G. Suarez-Fuentes, DVM, of the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, in Ames

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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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