Emergency and Critical Care
The Equine Medical Center is here to help with your horse's emergency and critical care needs. As the largest and most comprehensive equine hospital in the region, we offer unparalleled emergency services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In the event of an emergency, call 703-771-6800 to reach our specialists.
Specialized facilities and comprehensive care
Our board-certified specialists and highly skilled staff use state-of-the-art facilities and equipment with life-support capabilities to monitor and manage patients with any type of emergency.
- Patients that require intensive and critical care, such as those recovering from emergency or elective surgery, are monitored and treated by a team of specialists in our ICU.
- Our five-stall Level 3 ICU is equipped with an array of portable monitors, fluid pumps, and an oxygen delivery system.
- We provide continuous, 24-hour monitoring of patients, including newborn foals.
- The Equine Center's Clinical Diagnostic Laboratory provides a full spectrum of emergency diagnostic testing. Complete hematological and biochemical analysis of blood and fluid samples, including complete blood counts, determination of electrolyte, lactate, and blood gas values, and blood-type cross matching for transfusions are available around the clock.
- Diagnostic imaging services include the full complement of all imaging modalities available to the horse.
- The Equine Center's Biosecurity Level 2 Isolation Unit allows horses with potentially contagious diseases to be physically separated from hospitalized horses and the general equine population to minimize the risk of patient-to-patient infection.
- The free-standing isolation facility, which has seven self-contained stalls with independent air exchange, is fully equipped with advanced diagnostic and treatment equipment for adults and neonates.
- Within the isolation unit is a retrofitted stall, specifically for treatment of neurologic horses that often carry contagious disease. Designed to house these unstable patients, the double-size stall has fully padded walls, poured non-slip flooring, and an overhead sling system.
- Horses arriving at the center with a fever or evidence of an infectious disease are immediately placed in the isolation unit.
Blood transfusion is a potentially life-saving procedure for horses suffering hemorrhagic shock resulting from trauma, laceration, or hemolytic crisis. In these circumstances, there is no substitute for whole blood, which replaces the lost red blood cells and provides protein, clotting factors, and platelets.
The Equine Medical Center maintains a small herd of equine blood donors who have collectively donated more than 1,000 liters of blood in critical care situations.
Safe for donor and patient
- The procedure is simple and straightforward, requiring only the placement of a jugular catheter. Horses have a large, contractile spleen, which allows for fairly large volumes of blood to be removed from healthy donors with no negative consequences.
- Prior to every transfusion, donors are cross-matched with patients to ensure that their blood does not react adversely with the patients' blood.
Conditions requiring blood transfusion
- Patients with hemorrhage into the abdomen from a foaling-related tear or a fall or kick commonly require transfusions. These bleeds often cannot be repaired by surgery, so supportive care and transfusions are the most common treatment.
- Patients with red maple leaf toxicity, lacerations with substantial blood loss, anemia, or clotting disorders may also require transfusions.
Emergencies and appointments:
In the event of an emergency or to schedule an appointment, refer a patient, or inquire about our other clinical services, please call 703-771-6800.
emergency and critical care team
Bio ItemJennifer G. Barrett, DVM, PhD, DACVS, DACVSMR , bio
Theodora Ayer Randolph Professor, Equine Surgery
Bio ItemKrista E. Estell, DVM, DACVIM (LAIM) , bio
Clinical Associate Professor, Equine Medicine
Bio ItemMaureen Kelleher, DVM, CVA, DACVS , bio
Clinical Assistant Professor, Sports Medicine and Surgery
Bio ItemElizabeth MacDonald, BVMS, MS, DACVIM (LAIM) , bio
Clinical Instructor, Equine Medicine
Bio ItemEmily Schaefer, VMD, DACVIM (LAIM) , bio
Clinical Assistant Professor, Equine Medicine; Fellow, Equine Emergency and Critical Care