What happens if my horse comes into the hospital for an operation?

Operations are performed at Milbourn Equine at an ever increasing rate. We are very fortunate to have a close working relationship with a team of visiting surgeons who are always willing to come to us to perform surgeries. These surgeons are experts in their field of work and with the exception of some emergency procedures, such as colic surgery, we are now able to perform almost all operations your horse may need at our clinic.

If surgery is recommended by one of our vets, an equine surgeon specially trained in that procedure is contacted, and a date suitable for both you and the surgeon is arranged. If your horse is insured, we advise you contact your insurance company to let them know your horse has been advised to have surgery. If you have insurance permission before the surgery it provides you with peace of mind that you are covered. It also allows us time to write a report to the insurance company explaining why the surgery is indicated if necessary.

Once a date has been decided we will arrange for you to bring your horse in to the clinic the day before so that they may have time to settle into their new stable. Please can you ensure that you bring a bridle with your horse when they are visiting the clinic. One of our nurses will meet you on arrival and settle your horse in. We will ask you to sign a consent form for the surgery and ensure we have all your contact details. We request that you arrange for your horse’s shoes to be removed before they arrive at the clinic, this ensures that when your horse is waking up form the surgery they do not hurt themselves on the metal shoes.

Our nurses check on all our in patients during the evening. They will remove your horses feed at 10pm so that your horse has an empty stomach for the surgery. This helps your horse breath with greater ease under the anaesthetic without a big stomach of hay lying on their lungs.

The following morning the vet who will be anesthetising your horse examines them closely, listening to their heart and checking they are fit for surgery. A catheter is placed into one of the neck veins to allow drugs to be given easily without the need for your horse to have repeated needles placed in their vein. Your horse is then given antibiotics and pain killers ready for surgery before being taken into our purposefully built padded surgical box. A sedative is then given so that your horse is relaxed and sleepy before the anaesthetic injection is given.

When the anaesthetic injection is given our team of surgeon, anaesthetist and nurses guide your horse to the floor. Once asleep a soft rubber tube is placed into your horse’s mouth down their trachea (wind pipe) to allow your horse to breath easily. Ties are then placed around your horses legs to allow us to lift them onto the surgical table with a winch. Our table is inflated with air to provide a comfortable bed to support your horse and allow us to adjust the height depending on the surgery being performed.

Once your horse is on the surgical table the breathing tube is connected to an anaesthetic machine which provides a continuous flow of oxygen. An anaesthetic gas is also combined with the oxygen to keep your horse asleep throughout the surgical procedure.

During the surgery your horse is closely monitored by the anaesthetist. An ECG is used to visualise your horses heart beat, the carbon dioxide content of your horse’s breath is continuously monitored as is the oxygen content of their blood. A small catheter is also placed into one of your horses facial arteries to continuously monitor his/her blood pressure. Once the surgery has been completed we carefully winch your horse off of the table and lay them onto the floor of the surgical box. The anaesthetist remains with your horse until they begin to wake up and are able to swallow. We then leave your horse to continue to wake up quietly, whilst watching them through the doors of the box. Once your horse has stood they remain in the surgery box for up to an hour to allow them to recover quietly before we walk them back to their stable.

Following the surgery we keep horses in the clinic for a few days to ensure they make a full recovery and continue their injectable antibiotics. For most surgical conditions this is a 5 day antibiotic course with your horse able to go home once the course is completed.

Depending on the surgery performed we do advise that owners do not visit their horse until the following day. After an anaesthetic your horse will be feeling sleepy from the drugs administered and they will not feel up to having visitors! During the weekend we will provide you with the on call nurse’s telephone number so you may arrange a mutually convenient visiting time.

Please do not hesitate to call the clinic for updates while your horse is in hospital as we will be happy to discuss their progress with you.

 

 

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