Advancing Equine Veterinary Care: Breakthroughs in Surgical Approaches for Horses

Veterinarian performing surgery on equine patient

When it comes to getting a horse back on its feet, there are a few recent advancements that make all the difference. While there’s no replacement for quality care and highly skilled equine surgeons, technology pairs perfectly with a surgeon’s work. So, what breakthroughs have changed the face of equine surgery for good? 

The Standing MRI

A picture is worth a thousand words. And, when that picture provides insight into what’s ailing a horse, it can be worth a whole lot more. However, until recent years, MRIs were much more difficult for equine vets to capture, and much more stressful for their patients. The standing MRI allows horses to comfortably stand while undergoing the imaging process. Additionally, the standing MRI doesn’t require anesthesia, eliminating the associated risks to the horse.

Regenerative Biologics

Regenerative therapies, such as biologics, offer equine patients 100% natural healing powered by the body. This technology has become even more effective through advancements in formulation, quality control, and practicality. 

Biologics work by sending messages through cells to the body’s immune system to spur healing.

The latest generation of biologics doesn’t require refrigeration, nor does it require complicated mixing and long wait times prior to application. This has been a game changer for equine care. More and more surgeons are recommending their equine patients use biologics as a first intervention prior to surgery, or in combination with surgery for improved outcomes.

Laser Technology

Lasers aren’t just for Star Wars movies. They also provide surgeons with a tool to perform more complicated tasks while reducing the risk of blood loss. Lasers have also demonstrated a reduced risk of infection and better healing (according to the FDA). 

Veterinary lasers provide surgeons with more acute cutting for improved precision and better surgical margins.

Shockwave Therapy

Downtime is detrimental to horses. Shockwave therapy offers an alternative to surgery in some cases and allows the patient to forego surgery and the associated risks. This non-invasive method works by sending shockwaves into injured tissue. The body responds to these shockwaves by increasing blood flow, triggering growth hormones, and stimulating healing.

Shockwave therapy comes with another benefit for equine patients: reduced scar tissue. After surgery, the application of shockwave therapy reduces the development of scar tissue, resulting in less pain long-term, and often greater mobility for the patient.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has taken the world by storm, and the operating room is not the exception. Artificial intelligence is being used to support surgeons while they’re operating. Using AI in conjunction with imaging technology, as a second set of eyes and a second opinion, provides surgeons with decision support as they work.

AI can also help in the pre-surgical process as well as post-surgery aftercare through data analysis and risk assessment.

Embracing Surgical Technology for Equine Surgery

The advancement of surgical techniques has had a profound effect on the well-being of horses. With more tools in their surgical toolboxes, equine surgeons can more easily provide the most effective care to their patients. From AI to regenerative biologics, the future of horse health care is bright.

Image credit: Michael Ben Cartwright / Shutterstock

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