I love hearing about innovative ways to help the horses! Bladder stones are rough, difficult to remove and very painful… The team at Idaho Equine Hospital figured out a new and different way to remove bladder stones and ease the auxiliary pain of mares in this difficult procedure! Read about a successful and less invasive procedure Idaho Equine Hospital is using!
Tell your local vet!!!
A NEW PROCEDURE TO REMOVE BLADDER STONES IN MARES! Read on!
(from Idaho Equine Hospital FB page)
We had a really exciting case the other day. Reyna is a sweet little mare who came to us because her owner, Debbie Maxwell, had noticed discolored urine. When we tested her urine, we found that it had a high number of both white and red blood cells in it. We identified a stone in her bladder that measured 5.3 cm across.
Dr Liz Scott had recently learned about a new technique using an instrument designed for use in human laparoscopic surgery to facilitate removal of the stone. The instrument is inserted into the bladder through the urethra (following an epidural) and then the bag is extended out. The stone is scooped up into the bag and then the bag and the stone are pulled back out through the urethra.
Bladder stones in horses can be very challenging to remove. In other species, they can be removed surgically by making an incision into the abdomen, and then cutting into the bladder and removing the stone. This procedure is very difficult in horses because of their size and because the bladder is located within the pelvic cavity. Thus to get to the bladder and the stone, the bladder has to be pulled and stretched until the surgeon can actually visualize it in the abdomen. This is pretty physically challenging as well as traumatic to the bladder. Recovery from abdominal surgery also takes about 3 months before the horse can return to training. With smaller stones in mares, we can sometimes remove them through the urethra using instruments or in older mares, sometimes a vet with a very small hand can actually reach their hand into the bladder through the urethra to grasp and remove the stone.
Bladder stones in horses are typically made up of calcium and the stones tend to be very rough and spiculated, as well as fairly fragile. Thus when we remove them, they can create a lot of damage and irritation to the urethra if they scrape along the lining of it. Additionally, the stones can break apart and retrieving crumbled pieces of stone can be very difficult.
The advantages of this new technique are many: 1) because the bag is smooth we avoid injuring the lining of the urethra as the stone is pulled out. 2)The entire procedure is done with the horse awake and standing with just an epidural so the recovery time is minimal. 3) With the stone in the sack, if it does break apart during removal, all of the pieces are contained and thus won’t be left behind in the bladder.
At this time, we have only used this technique in mares. Obviously, because of differences in anatomy, removal of bladder stones in geldings presents different challenges, but we are tickled to have had such great success with it in Reyna.
Below are several pictures from the procedure and the equipment that we used.