Veterinarians from Australia and New Zealand met in Melbourne, Australia, last week to learn about the latest advances in equine surgery at the Equine Veterinarians Australia Bain Fallon Conference.

Bruce Bladon, BVM&S, Cert EP, DESTS, Dipl. ECVS, MRCVS, from the United Kingdom, gave the “Twilight Tutorial,” in which he explained the growing trend towards surgery in the standing horse and provided evidence supporting this approach over general anesthesia. He says the use of general anesthetic in equine surgery comes with an increased risk of complications that could lead to higher mortality rates.

“The overarching change in recent years has definitely been in relation to surgery in the standing horse,” he explained. “This is ironic, because we’ve seen considerable developments in the field of general anesthesia along with improved recovery from anesthesia, which means it’s much less dangerous for a horse to undergo anesthesia nowadays.

“Despite these advances, I’ve witnessed cases where surgery under general anesthesia is both dangerous and unnecessary, for example, in the surgical treatment of splint bone fractures,” Bladon continued. “The other key area where surgery is associated with complications during recovery from anesthetic is fracture repair. These sort of complications can now be avoided thanks to our ability to perform surgery in the standing sedated horse.”

Bladon referred to earlier research, which revealed a 1% mortality rate for horses undergoing routine surgery. However, with significant advances in veterinary science and from looking at results wi