Equine

Specialist and Expertise Services

Radiography

Meopham Veterinary Hospital has the ability to carry out x-rays of your horse at your premises or at the hospital. The ability to transport our x-ray machine allows rapid diagnoses in emergency situations. The use of four wheel drive vehicles allows use of such equipment in field conditions where animals are unable to walk in from their current location.

Martin Hobbs holds the RCVS Certificate in Diagnostic Imaging and assists colleagues with second opinion on equine radiographs.

This can be very useful in a number of different circumstances. The most common x-rays that are performed are of the lower limb and feet in horses. The alignment of bones and any changes within those bones may be seen radiographically. Below are just a few examples of the uses of radiography in horses:

  • Diagnosis and progression of laminitis
  • Fractures of the bones of the lower limb or foot
  • Diagnosis of arthritis
  • Diagnosis of navicular disease
  • Tumours, foot abscesses and foreign bodies may also be seen radiographically

X-rays are useful in circumstances where a lameness has been isolated to a particular area and we want to establish the underlying cause of the lameness. It is never the first port of call in a lameness work up. The vet may wish to visit on a couple of occasions prior to advising x-rays. For example, it is likely that a series of nerve blocks may have to be performed before x-rays.

Ultrasonography

Martin Hobbs holds the RCVS Certificate in Diagnostic Imaging in both small and large animals. He therefore offers the following ultrasound services:

Assessment of soft tissue injury Pregnancy diagnosis

At the Meopham Veterinary Hospital, we have a modern portable ultrasound machine which we can bring to your premises, avoiding transporting your horse unnecessarily.

Assessment of Soft Tissue Injury

When a lameness has been isolated to a particular area, ultrasonography is useful for assessing soft tissue structures in that area. For example, ultrasound is vital for the diagnosis of tendon injuries in horses.

Equine anatomy is very complicated and there are many tendons and ligaments in the legs which are all prone to injury, especially in the lower limb. These injuries may be due to trauma such as a kick or sharp object but are frequently due to strenuous exercise. This may be flatwork in racehorses, but jumping ponies are also particularly susceptible to certain types of injury. The most common tendon injuries include superficial digital flexor tendonitis, deep digital flexor tendonitis and check ligament desmitis.

Ultrasound is essential for the diagnosis of such injuries. For example, the affected tendon may appear enlarged and with altered fibre alignment on ultrasound. The horse’s response to treatment can also be assessed using ultrasonography and an ongoing exercise and treatment plan can be accurately formulated accordingly to tendon healing. Regular repeated ultrasound sessions will be required.

Ultrasound may also formulate part of the TREATMENT protocol for such injury. However, this is using different equipment and can be discussed with Mrs Jacqueline F. Grant, a specialist Veterinary Physiotherapist. Jacqui is a qualified human physiotherapist who has also gained a Masters degree in Veterinary Physiotherapy. Please refer to her web site www.vetphysioservices.co.uk

Pregnancy Diagnosis

Ultrasound is also very useful in the detection of pregnancy in horses. This is carried out via rectal examination using a special ultrasound probe.

We advise that the first scan is carried out at 15-35 days post copulation. At this stage, twins may be identified and one destroyed. AFTER THIS DATE, THE WHOLE PREGNANCY WILL REQUIRE TERMINATING IF TWINS ARE DETECTED and the mare may not rebreed until the following season.

Unfortunately, the uterus in mares is only designed to carry a single foal. If she is allowed to carry twins, she will abort prior to term or produce a non viable foal. This can be very distressing and can also put the mare at significant risk. It is important to destroy one conceptus or terminate the pregnancy if twins are detected.

Martin Hobbs is an RCVS certificate holder in diagnostic imaging and is therefore keen to carry out rectal pregnancy diagnosis in mares (and also farm animal species).

There are also blood tests which can detect pregnancy. These can be accurate but both false positives and false negatives may occur. The use of ultrasound is far more accurate and can also confirm whether a foal is alive, which a blood test cannot.

Ophthalmology

Martin Hobbs has recently gained the RCVS Certificate in Veterinary Ophthalmology.

Ophthalmology is a complicated, intricate subject. There are multiple things that can go wrong with horses’ eyes, many of them benign but others very serious indeed. Eye problems can deteriorate rapidly and the consequences can occasionally be disastrous. Therefore, it is essential to seek veterinary attention immediately if an eye problem is noted.

At Meopham Veterinary Hospital, all the vets are competent to deal with an ocular emergency. More complex surgery or unusual presentations may be referred to Martin Hobbs who has extensive surgical experience.

Endoscopy

Horses can suffer from a number of different upper airway conditions.

Does your horse sound a bit unusual when undergoing strenuous exercise? Does it gulp, ‘roar’ or whistle?

If this is the case in your horse, endoscopy may be appropriate. A camera and light source at the end of a long tube is passed down the airway to examine vital structures involved in respiration, especially the larynx. The symmetry and function of the larynx and the soft palate can be examined accurately in this way.

Endoscopy is also useful in cases where a horse has had a recent nose bleed or has another upper respiratory problem. In the case of strangles, endoscopy is useful when wishing to visualise the guttural pouches; perform guttural pouch washes or take samples.

Lung washes may be performed for the investigation of coughs, chronic lung disease or poor performance.

Endoscopy can also be useful when samples are required from deeper within the airways as there is a biopsy channel through which a catheter may be passed. Your horse may require a sedative for the procedure but this can be done in a standing horse without the need for a general anaesthetic.

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