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Surgery and medicine teamwork ensures mare and foal recovery

Surgery and medicine teamwork ensures mare and foal recovery.

Glendale's Sailor and her foal, Captain

Glendale’s Sailor and her foal Captain
Sailor and shy Captain at home enjoying the sunshine (and adoration from the humans) in their paddock!

A colicky horse is every horse owner's worst nightmare!

On an evening in mid-April, Deb Norman of Berryville, Virginia, discovered her 13-year-old Connemara mare, Glendale’s Sailor (with her 3-week-old colt foal by her side), clearly in discomfort. Deb’s primary care veterinarian Mitchell Rode, was called out to the farm and, after performing a rectal exam, referred Sailor to the EMC for emergency treatment.

After a thorough colic examination and abdominal ultrasound were completed, Krista Estell, clinical assistant professor of equine medicine, and her team suspected that Sailor had been suffering from a right dorsal displacement of the large colon, a type of colic that can often be managed medically with pain relief and fluids.

Sailor and her foal were admitted for treatment and close monitoring. Throughout the night, Sailor remained comfortable, but didn’t pass any manure. Early the next morning, her colic symptoms returned. A repeat rectal palpation indicated a change in the position of her colon. Because she was unresponsive to pain management, surgery was recommended.

Abdominal exploratory surgery by James Brown, clinical associate professor of equine surgery, revealed a 180-degree large colon volvulus, which was corrected. Sailor recovered from anesthesia without incident and was returned to her anxiously awaiting foal.

In the meantime, Sailor’s foal — aptly named “Captain” — was a little quiet and had a mildly elevated temperature and occasional cough with associated airway noise. Throughout the first night in the hospital, he had experienced a mild fever and had continued to have an intermittent cough and loud breathing. Blood work revealed a higher than normal white blood cell count, and a thoracic ultrasound showed pneumonia. The foal was given oral antibiotics that alleviated these symptoms, and he was ready to go home with his dam a couple of days later.

Teamwork between the medicine and surgical teams ensured that both mare and foal were simultaneously treated for their unique clinical needs. Said a grateful Deb Norman, “We cannot thank Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center staff enough for taking such good care of Sailor and her foal.”