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Princess Inside and Out

September 22, 2021

Equine veterinary hospital Comments Off on Standing tieback surgery for ‘roarers’




Camden Equine Centre has had a real Princess in residence for the last 6 months. ‘Princess’ is an extraordinary horse with a very dedicated owner. She is a twenty-year-old purebred Arabian who had a tough start in life; she was rescued by her current owner many years ago when she was found malnourished and living in a chicken coup. She was rehabilitated back to health and has had a wonderful life until she developed perianal melanomas. Melanomas are a prevalent disease in older grey horses, with Arabians being more susceptible and most commonly forming around hairless areas. In most cases even when they are prolific and obscure the genital area horses are comfortable and seldom succumb to their growth. However, in Princesses case, the melanomas on her tail rapidly expanded and burst in a short time frame of a few months. The owner sought the advice of multiple vets, but she was advised there was no treatment available for this degree of melanoma; euthanasia was the only option given. Princess was otherwise in perfect health; as you can see in the images, she looks much younger than twenty!

The owner contacted Dr Marta Wereszka as she had hoped laser surgery was an option; Marta was sent photos and knew that laser surgery would not be aggressive enough to remove them. The owner made the long trip to see Marta, and on examination, her tail was in a terrible state. The smell was putrid with a swarm of flies which Princess was unable to swish away due to the size of the tumours. The owners explained on many occasions being confronted with maggots which even daily cleaning was not successful to resolve.

The disease was so severe that Marta advised there were two options, tail amputation or euthanasia. As the tail was not currently functional and Princess was in such good health, these latter options seemed absurd.  Dr Marta Wereszka and Dr Sara Biasutti led the team with Dr Eduardo Uquillas, our specialist anaesthetist, allowing the surgery to be performed standing utilising an epidural.

The surgery was a success. Princess did not move at all and tolerated the procedure exceptionally well. Postoperatively the surgical site healed very quickly and Princess remained comfortable. Princess has stayed at CEC for many months, being cared for by the staff and students; she is the most fantastic patient.
Unfortunately, she has recently experienced two episodes of hemothorax and has had intermittent nose bleeds; meaning she likely has melanomas that have metastasised into her sinus and chest.  There has been significant improvement with oral corticosteroids which she is able to stay on for a long period of time. ;  Most importantly she is not in pain, eating and drinking and enjoying her daily attention, particularly from the students and equine nurses who have cared for her throughout her hospital stay. We have all learnt a lot from Princess.

Princess’s owners have experienced hardships with floods affecting their property, health problems and covid restrictions, which has not allowed them to see her. Still, if she stabilises and lockdowns lift, they will take her home. The CEC team are so thrilled to have been able to help Princess; she is our little ray of sunshine in these unprecedented times.


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