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Equine Surgery in a Pool
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Equine Surgery in a Pool

New Bolton Center, the 700 acre campus of Penn Vet, or the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, in Kennett Square, PA, has the reputation of providing equine athletes with the most advanced treatment and care.

One of the most remarkable features of the equine care program of this establishment is its one-of-a-kind “pool recovery” system; this system has been designed for safely awakening horses from anesthesia.

The system was first used around four decades back and is considered as one of the most critical innovations in vet surgery ever. It is still an integral part of the vet hospital’s care program, and is particularly used by orthopedic surgeons treating horses with leg fractures. However, there have been some changes; the recovery pool currently in use at the New Bolton Center is an upgraded version of the pool used 40 years back.

Dean Richardson, the chief of the surgery division at the New Bolton Center, when discussing about the pool recovery system, said that the pool plays a big role in ensuring that horses undergoing anesthesia recover without any difficulty.

He added that when a horse wakes up from anesthesia in a pool, it gets back its coordination, strength and awareness more easily. This in turn ensures that they don’t get injured when recovering.

Almost since the time vets started using anesthesia in equine surgery, they have been talking about the enormous amount of risks a horse can be at when recovering. The risk is more for horses compared to other animals because being prey animals, horses tend to run away whenever something bothers them or there is any sign of trouble.

The moment a horse wakes up from general anesthesia, it first tries to stand and then run, regardless of whether it has gained back its strength and coordination fully.

It has been found that most horses manage to recover successfully and stand up properly. However, for a horse that has just undergone a limb surgery or is recovering from a repaired fracture, the process of recovery is usually not that easy. The attempt to stand while still under the influence of anesthesia might overload the repaired limb and cause an even worse injury.

Veterinarians and animal experts have been trying to find a solution to this problem almost since the beginning of times. The pool recovery technique is definitely the most effective solution found to date. Jacques Jenny of Penn Vet came up with this innovative idea during the late 1960s.

The technique was tested before being introduced as part of the organization’s equine care program. At that time, the system was not half as perfect as it is now. The first horse to take part in the test was an Appaloosa. As the system lacked perfection, the Appaloosa temporarily developed a common muscle disorder known as “tying up”. Since then, the technique has undergone multiple modifications and now it is at its effective best. The most fascinating thing about the pool recovery technique however, is that it was unique when it was first envisioned by Jenny more than 40 years back, and has managed to remain unique even today.

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  1. jst4horses
    Awesome the good things people can figure out. I always think, what if we just spent our money on good things, and getting better and less expensive, than the negative things we do, what an even more amazing world we could have, for ourselves and the animals in it.
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