A Power Drill Could Help Cut Down Horse Castration Complications

While many veterinarians use a clamp to accomplish hemostasis, a Swiss research team has uncovered significant benefits offered by a different castration and clamping method.
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Simply due to the nature of the procedure—removing a horse’s testes—castration can lead to major blood loss from the testicular arteries if its not stopped in a process called hemostasis. While many veterinarians use a clamp to accomplish hemostasis, a Swiss research team has uncovered significant benefits to a different castration and clamping method—one that involves using a power drill.

“The ‘twisting’ seems to improve hemostasis, and it also has the advantages of getting the job done quickly and keeping the surgeons’ head and upper body out of the ‘danger zone,’ where they could get kicked (in a standing, sedated horse),” said Christoph Koch, DrMedVet, Dipl. ACVS, ECVS, of the University of Bern Vetsuisse Faculty Swiss Institute for Equine Medicine.

He said the power drill method—called the Henderson technique—is easy to perform and well tolerated by the horse. And, when it’s combined with a “closed” castration, complication rates are particularly low compared to other techniques, he added.

Open and closed castrations refer to what surgeons do with the internal sac that houses the testes, called the parietal tunic. In an open castration, the surgeon opens this tunic to remove the testes and access the testicular artery to clamp it shut. In a closed castration, the surgeon removes the tunic with the testes still inside it. Then, using the power drill and a specialized attachment, the surgeon stops the arterial blood flow by adding a clamp over the arteries within the tunic and twisting it at high speeds

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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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