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Common Equine Surgical Procedures and Their Benefits

Common Equine Surgical Procedures and Their Benefits

If your horse experiences an injury or has a deformity that affects their ability then your vet may recommend surgery to treat their condition. Today, our Versailles equine vets share some of the common types of equine surgical procedures, when they are used and how they benefit your horse.

The Use of Equine Surgical Procedures in Horses

The surgical and diagnostic services offered at Bluegrass Equine Surgery help to detect and correct injury, lameness and deformities in horses.

Our expert veterinary team is capable of providing both general and specialized surgical services for major and minor elective procedures for both inpatient and outpatient cases.

Diagnostic tools and surgical procedures are vitally important in the evaluation and treatment of musculoskeletal injury, lameness, routine reproductive evaluation, cardiac disease, respiratory disease, and an ever-expanding number of medical applications.

Common Equine Surgical Services

At our clinic in Versailles, our equine vets offer a number of on-site equine surgical procedures such as:

Airway Surgery

Horses suffering from airway abnormalities may benefit from surgery to help improve their breathing.

Some of the most common airway surgeries include the 'tie-back' surgery (laryngeal prosthesis surgery), where the horse is experiencing paralysis of the left side of the larynx, 'tie-forward' procedure when a horse has suffered a displaced palate,  or an arytenoidectomy when there are deformities affecting the laryngeal cartilages.

Some other commonly performed surgeries include head surgeries impacting the nasal cavities, guttural pouches and sinuses which can be used to treat lumps, infections, trauma, tumors, cysts, dental disease and congenital deformities.

Fracture Repair

Certain horse fractures can be addressed using surgical techniques. However, there are a number of factors that should be taken into consideration when deciding on surgery such as:

  • Location of the fracture
  • Your horse's overall size
  • Type of fracture
  • Fracture severity
  • Temperament of your horse
  • Treatment costs
  • Prognosis expectations

While surgery can be used to treat fractures, it may not be recommended in every case. You and your vet will discuss the available options and factors listed above before coming to a decision. Usually, equine surgical procedures are performed while the horse is under general anesthesia, there are certain procedures that can be offered while the horse is sedated and standing.


Repair to synovial structures such as a joint, tendon sheath or bursa can be performed using an arthroscope allowing for a minimally invasive solution. The arthroscope (tiny camera) can be inserted through a hole that is as little as 1cm wide. This allows the veterinary surgeon to perform the procedure without completely opening up the affected area. This can help improve the recovery process greatly and reduce the recovery time.

The equine veterinary surgeon will diagnose the issue and perform the procedure using the live feed from the arthroscope to an in-room monitor. As with regular surgery, the incision will be stitched shut and bandaged.

Angular Limb Deformity

Angular limb deformity, otherwise referred to as ALD covers either an outward or inward deviation of a limb. This deviation typically occurs around a joint. While the knee is most commonly affected, it can also occur on the ankle or hock, typically on more than one of your horse's legs.

If your horse is experiencing a severe form of ALD then your equine vet will likely recommend surgery to treat it. The equine surgeon will treat this condition by altering the growth of the bone itself.

This procedure will help lift the bone covering on the short side to help enhance the slow growth to allow this side to catch up to the other. This equine surgical procedure is not known to cause overcorrection.

The equine surgeon may also use transphyseal bridging which will slow the bone growth by placing a screw both above and below the growth plate and attaching a wire between them to physically slow the growth. This will need to be removed as soon as correction has occurred to prevent over-correction and further complications.

Equine Surgical Procedures in Versailles

Bluegrass Equine Surgery is a world-class surgical and recovery facility for horses with onsite diagnostics, imaging, and lab access, to care for the needs of horses on and off their farm.

The ultimate goal of our veterinary team is to provide our patients with superior diagnostic and peri-operative care. We have experience with all breeds and disciplines and expertise in soft tissue and orthopedic surgery.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding animals or professional advice regarding equine regulations. For the diagnosis of your animal's condition and help to navigate rules governing the care and transportation of equine animals, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your horse is scheduled for surgical procedures of equine bones or other concerns and you have any questions, please get in touch with Bluegrass Equine Surgery

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Whether you are looking to get involved with our rapidly-growing practice, or are seeking equine veterinary care, Bluegrass Equine Surgery welcomes you to get in touch. 

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