Is Surgery an Option for Equine Cushing’s Disease?

Researchers recently described a novel and still experimental procedure designed to treat PPID with positive results.

No account yet? Register


For many years, the mainstay of treating pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID, or equine Cushing’s disease) involved administering daily doses of the medication pergolide. But could there be another option ahead? Researchers from Europe recently described a novel—and still experimental—surgical procedure designed to treat PPID with positive results.

Equine Cushing’s disease is a disorder of the pituitary gland’s pars intermedia caused by an adenoma (a type of tumor). Classic signs, most frequently seen in older horses, include an abnormal hair coat, loss of muscle tone, altered fat deposition, and chronic laminitis.

In humans with Cushing’s disease (a related, but ultimately different condition), surgical pituitary growth removal is the treatment of choice; however, none of the currently employed surgical approaches used in humans would be feasible in the horse. Removing a horse’s tumor with those methods would require drilling through several centimeters of bone and using long, slender equipment to reach it—tools that don’t currently exist.

“In other words, none of the surgical procedures in human medicine permit adequate access to the pituitary gland in horses,” explained Aimée Sakes, MSc, from the BioMechanical Engineering Department of Delft University of Technology, in the Netherlands

Create a free account with to view this content. is home to thousands of free articles about horse health care. In order to access some of our exclusive free content, you must be signed into

Start your free account today!

Already have an account?
and continue reading.


Written by:

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she’s worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

Related Articles

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with

FREE weekly newsletters from

Sponsored Content

Weekly Poll

sponsored by:

What lameness issues has your horse experienced? Select all that apply.
251 votes · 503 answers

Readers’ Most Popular

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Register for a FREE account here.

Need to update your account?

You need to be logged in to fill out this form

Create a free account with!