Making Horse Castrations Safer: Look at Complications

Researchers said evaluating castration complications allowed them to arrive at a benchmark to which other equine practitioners can audit their individual and practice performances, possibly leading to even safer gelding procedures.
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horse castrations
Hodgson said complication rates among the castration cases evaluated were very respectable. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Caitlin Freeny
Some procedures—castration in horses, for example—are so routine and have been performed the same way for so long, we don’t’ think to see if the technique really works or whether it comes with complications. A pair of British researchers recently took a step back and an objective look at gelding procedures to find out how horses are doing during and after—and how veterinary surgeons are performing their jobs.

Knowing that information, equine veterinarians can compare their own castration track records to a new “gold standard” to see how their results fare, said said Claire Hodgson, BVetMed, CertAVP(EM), MRCVS, a clinical practice veterinarian working in association with the University of Liverpool School of Veterinary Science, in Neston, U.K.

“One of the main purposes of this study was to provide a benchmark for clinicians against which they can audit their individual and practice performances,” she said. “Clinical audit is now routine in human medicine and is becoming commonplace in veterinary medicine as a way to constantly compare performance against a gold standard and strive for the highest performance possible. Hopefully, by providing the baseline standards in general practice, we have made this task easier for clinicians in general practice.”

Hodgson and Gina Pinchbeck, BVSc, CertES, PhD, Dipl. ECVPH, MRCVS, of the University of Liverpool Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, prospectively investigated nearly 500 equine castrations performed by more than 50 veterinarians. The pair collected complication data on the day of each castration and again 30 days post-operatively

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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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