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He GOT a neurectomy.... w/ Updates to the Story.

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  • #41
    Glad to hear about your great outcomes, and fingers crossed for your horse's "veiny bump", Ozone. I had posted earlier in this thread about my mare getting done a few weeks ago, but due to scheduling conflicts (mostly on our assistant trainer being able to get the mare to the clinic) we put it off for a few weeks.

    She actually got her neurectomy done this morning, and will be coming home on Friday. I talked to my vet this morning and all went well. Can't wait to get her home. I'm confident that I made the right decision for her and think that injections would have just put off the inevitable. I've been anxiously following this thread and hope to hear more of your good updates.


    • Original Poster

      AndNirina: Please let me know how all works out with your girl when she gets home!

      With my horse the veiny thing (LOL) was nothing but vet wrap folding in the spot so we thought. Vet left. Next day I unwrap my horse and his leg is blowed up from knee all the way down. Called vet in a panic. SMZ's were dropped off, hosed his leg for 20 minutes, re-wrapped. I have never felt a leg so hot on any horse until now. It fevered right through the wraps. Just then did I start second guessing my decision.

      Vet came early morning, injected the tendon sheath with antibiotics and steriod in the heel. Left wrap on for two days. Last night I went to change the wrap afraid of what I was going to see his leg/heel/foot was cold, tight and back to normal. Pheww!

      That veiny bump was the start of infection

      He is ok now but what a roller coaster ride it's been. His feet never hit a spot of dirt through this all but still infection arose internally. If it was still stocked last night then it would have been neuroma and my horse would have had to do surgery to correct it.

      Tonight he gets stitches out. Hopefully on both legs!

      Keep me updated on Pirate and AndNirina's girl too


      • #43
        (Now that I read the rest of the thread, I see you already had it done, so I revised the post.) A horse in our barn that I know very well is in the same position, just a bit further alone. He got his stitches out a few days ago and is doing great. Excellent feeling in his toes, moving perfectly normally -- except now he's happy and sound. Here's hoping yours are both the same very soon.

        Our vet/surgeon is very, very experienced with neurectomy. He's done neurectomy studies, written papers, handles frequent referrals from other vets, gets asked to travel around the country to do the surgery, and has done more of the surgeries than the vast majority of veterinary surgeons -- not because he likes to do them, but because it was his study speciality and he is known for his knowledge and skill in the area. He always wants to do the block first to find out how the horse reacts and moves under saddle and, if he jumps, see how he does jumping. Quoting him, if you don't like how the horse goes when he's blocked, you won't like him nerved.

        He always makes the point that theoretically, the modern low neurectomy should only deaden sensation to the heel area; however, the nerves are kind of like a tree root and every horse can be different. In some cases, the loss of sensation extends to the toe.

        Our vet's practice is to first try steroid injections, and if that doesn't work, then Tildren coupled with injections. If that is not successful in making the horse sound, then he'll consider surgery, in appropriate cases after evaluation. He always does the temporary block first. The surgical protocol is surgery under general anasthesia at the surgical hospital, come home the next day if no complications, 10-12 days stall rest (with hand walking) until the stitches come out, then go back to light work and get the horse's fitness back. If all goes well, return to normal work. Then X-ray every year to monitor the status of the foot and particularly the navicular bone. If the bone becomes too ragged, it can cut the tendon without the horse feeling it, and that's the end. Our vet will not operate on a horse whose navicular bone is too badly degenerated. So, if needed, yearly Tildren treatments to help keep the bone in good condition. In the unusual situation that a neuroma develops, it can be removed with further surgery.

        The fact is, there are plenty of GP jumpers, dressage horses, reiners, and barrel horses out there who've been nerved -- but its not exactly something people announce to the world.
        Last edited by Portia; Aug. 17, 2010, 09:51 PM.
        "I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?" Dave Barry


        • #44
          Ozone, my heart was in my throat when I started to read your latest post, Whew! Hopefully all goes well from here on. Pirate has permission to start walking out under saddle. We have been going out on short trail rides and now he is much more willing to walk forward. No issues with tripping or stumbles, in fact, he is starting to get impatient and wants to go faster. The plan is to walk out for two weeks then start trot sets.


          • Original Poster

            WW- I am SO Jealous of you and Pirate righ now! but VERY happy with your results thus far!

            My guy is still in wraps. All the swelling went down in his one leg but he is still tender by the nerve ending. Vet is coming Friday to inject that area again. If we do not see a change then he will go in and take that peice of nerve out.

            I feel like I should be were Pirate is at right now but mine may be a late-healing-bloomer! Can you see I am staying overly positive? My farrier is coming today to clean up his feet but no shoes on incase vet needs to go back in he will just end up pulling them anyway.

            It takes me about 2 hours per night to unwrap, ice, gauze, re-wrap him. He is stall bound with no walking or anything. I was a bit sad last night seeing all the riders, riding... seeing the horses out in the pasture and here is my boy - just waiting.

            If anything it's been a journey of ups and downs. I know he will be ok I guess I just expected sooner.

            Portia - I just revised the header Exactly what you wrote is how my vet handled and went about the exams leading to the surgery, surgery and aftercare. However, It was my choice not to try injections before. His one foot (the problem foot now) has moderate navicular that is why I went right to the neurectomy.

            I know there are many that had this done and many are hush hush about it but from my end, with my horse, I figure if I can share my own personal experiences of the good & bad to people who only know hearsay on the surgery maybe my experience can help their decision

            I just am at a bump in the road at the moment.
            Last edited by Ozone; Aug. 18, 2010, 01:55 PM.


            • #46
              Big hugs, Ozone! This is just a bump on the road to recovery. Just think if you had to wade thru all of the other injections, MRIs, bla bla bla. I wish I was there to help you with the wrapping etc. Maybe some helpful Pony Clubber in the area can give you a break. I will follow some of the other vets proticol(sp?) about yearly radiographs but I still am not sold on Tildren. I had a long talk with the vet about the neurectomy stigma. He said they will only perform the proceedure for owners who really know their horse and will watch the effected areas daily and have appropriate expectations for the future (proper shoeing, possible decrease in performance level). I feel that by being open and willing to discuss the proceedure with others, the stigma can be demystified.


              • #47
                I've been thinking about chiming in on this thread. I had a bilateral neurectomy done on my TB several years ago (4-5? Can't remember exactly...I've had kids and the loss of brain cells that goes with it!). For years we did various things to try to get him sound...special shoeing, wedges, pads, injections, blocks, supplements, drugs, voodoo shaman, fairy dust, you get the picture. I was over it, and had a horse who was not sound walking in his pasture. I had the neurectomy done by a very experienced, highly regarded specialist vet. He laid it all out on the table. Explained about the neuromas, which he said he has had very few issues with. I think a lot of that depends on technique, but that's just my uneducated opinion. They can and do happen. Bigger issue is that it can be a contributing factor to a total DDFT blowout which is a death sentence. If a horse has structural issues where the DDFT is being torn by a jagged navicular bone it can get shredded, and if the horse has lost feeling to that area, he will be much more likely to move around and do so than if he is in pain. And apparently it can happen even if that pathology isn't there. So that can be scary.

                It was great for my horse because it allowed me to transition him to a healthier hoof and to soundness. He had severely contracted heels and frogs from the shoeing attempts to help him. Yes, that could have been fixed without the neurectomy but the blocks were wearing off more and more quickly and he was not comfortable with any combo of boots and pads that I had tried. I was really at the end of the rope. He sufferred from chronic heel pain that just didn't have a cause that we could point to on his x-rays, and I realized that his hoof structure needed help but buting him daily for however long it took to come up with some magical fix wasn't going to work. I used his stall rest time to pull his shoes and bed him very deep, so he had minimal sole bruising of his paper thin soles. Packing his hooves helped stimulate the circulation needed to grow out his frogs. The neurectomy allowed him to go through this transition without being crippled.

                I never really planned on doing much with him, but I had a recent scare with him (vet misdiagosed an abcess as a femur fracture. Yeah.) and I have had a little free time lately so I'm putting him back to work and he's the soundest he's been since I bought him. I do realize that by typing that I have angered the horse soundness gods and brought their collective wrath upon me. Anyway, I ride him in a nice sand ring and he's happy. He's perfectly sound in his pasture, and has been so, barefoot, for years. If I do progress back to any real work with him I may need to put something on his hooves (I'm reading the epona thread with great interest). I just wanted to share my story. While plenty of horses return to relatively heavy workloads after a neurectomy, I think it helps to limit your expectations, but it can be a really good option for lots of horses, especially if you are using it while you address any other issues that are keeping the horse from being sound.


                • Original Poster

                  Originally posted by meaty ogre View Post
                  I've been thinking about chiming in on this thread.

                  I do realize that by typing that I have angered the horse soundness gods and brought their collective wrath upon me. Anyway, I ride him in a nice sand ring and he's happy. He's perfectly sound in his pasture, and has been so, barefoot, for years. If I do progress back to any real work with him I may need to put something on his hooves (I'm reading the epona thread with great interest). I just wanted to share my story. .

                  Hi! Thanks for chiming in here. I find everyone's story as another piece of information learned about neurectomies. and I am happy that your horse did turn out ok after what seemed like an extensive process just trying to find him some comfort. Some people would not go through all that you have but you know you tried every avenue before having the neurectomy done.

                  As far as the soundness Gods go I would rather see my horse in the pasture "looking sound" than seeing him in the pasture crippled. JMO.

                  Many, many horses are ridden after neurectomies. Just like many horses are ridden with ringbone, arthritic hocks, suspensory issues, chipped knees, oslets, pins etc. Just because my horse's nerves are gone and he cannot feel it doesn't mean that he is less sound then the horses with the above mentioned that are visably unsound

                  I think that riding is alot of our intentions for our horses after the surgery. Some folk do it for their old horse when the other option is putting them down but when you have a younger horse that needs to have a job you go through the surgery to get back what you had before - a riding horse.

                  I understand my horse is limited but I will be riding him again.

                  Vet comes today hopefully for the last time. He is doing great.... finally!! Wishing he had some turn out he is becoming a beast


                  • #49
                    Originally posted by meaty ogre View Post
                    He laid it all out on the table. Explained about the neuromas, which he said he has had very few issues with. I think a lot of that depends on technique, but that's just my uneducated opinion. They can and do happen. Bigger issue is that it can be a contributing factor to a total DDFT blowout which is a death sentence. If a horse has structural issues where the DDFT is being torn by a jagged navicular bone it can get shredded, and if the horse has lost feeling to that area, he will be much more likely to move around and do so than if he is in pain. And apparently it can happen even if that pathology isn't there. So that can be scary.
                    Exactly what our vet says. He wants x-rays and ultrasounds done at least yearly to keep an eye on the bone and tendon. Tildren will hopefully help with this, since it helps to repair the bone.

                    As far as riding and performance go, our very experienced specialist vet says that a high percentage of the horses on which he performs neurectomies are high-end performance horses, in a wide variety of disciplines. The owners eventually turn to neurectomy precisely because the horses are talented and valuable -- too talented and valuable to easily replace.
                    Last edited by Portia; Sep. 9, 2010, 12:32 PM.
                    "I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?" Dave Barry


                    • #50
                      My mare has been back home for a few weeks now, and just had her stitches removed yesterday. Her incisions look fantastic and I was surprised at how tiny they actually were. She seems to be doing very well, and aside from the occasional stumble right after she got home from the clinic, she seems to be able to move just fine.

                      I'm interested to hear what your return to work rehab protocols look like. So far, she is being handwalked twice a day for 15 minutes. We will be able to put her back undersaddle in September and my vet recommended walking for the first week. During the second week, after a long walk warmup, he asked that we canter her immediately for a lap each way to stretch out her pastern muscles. (I don't have the protocol in front of me.. I'm paraphrasing here!)

                      My mare had stifle arthroscopy in January to repair a torn medial meniscus ligament so her undersaddle work will be rehabbing both the recent neurectomy and her older stifle surgery. So, after the two canter laps then we are to follow her stifle rehab protocol which consists of one lap of trot then one lap of walk repeated 5x and building in duration over a period of months. This has been quite the year of surgeries for her and I joke that I've erected a shrine to the Soundness of her Right Hind (the only one that hasn't been operated on yet in 2010, but sadly it's only August, right?!?)

                      I hope your horses are doing well and I'm hopeful that mine can return to at least 75% of what she was in the past few years competitively. At least I know that she's comfortable now regardless of the outcome.


                      • Original Poster

                        Here to send well wishers to everyone horse who's been through this lately and an update on my guy!

                        Its been 23 days now since his surgery and he is doing GREAT! He is on turn out now, he knows exactly where his feet are, you cannot even tell he has stitch marks and he is sounder than he has ever been.......... that is with NO shoes too!!! I cannot express my feelings when I called him over to the fence. He came trotting over with this bright look in his eye, ears up with a floaty trot! Made my day.

                        Vet wants to look at him one more time next week after that he will have his shoes back and a riding we go!

                        AndNirina: After the surgery I walked my guy 10 minutes the first day home and increased by 5 minutes every day following that. That was for a week and a 1/2. The following week he was allowed turn out in a small pasture. (we had a bump in the road along the way so I had to do stall rest) but he would have been turned out with wraps on until the stitches came out. I re-dressed, re-wrapped and ice wrapped his legs for 1 hour every night.

                        Riding wise once I get shoes on I will start out more walk, less trot than increase more trot. My horse was a worker before this lay up so 23 days without work is a toll taker on the constant scheduled horse so I will take it slow and do about two weeks of walk trot every other day and incorporate the canter in from there.

                        Sounds like you are on the good road to recovery!!


                        • #52
                          Originally posted by Ozone View Post
                          espridham I wonder if it is the "what ifs" (neuromas etc.) that turn people off to this surgery...
                          That is part of it, but mostly it is the stories that stem from inappropriate use of the surgery (and in some instances the misperception that the horse can't feel their foot). Neurectomies can be very helpful for horses with a chronic heel pain condition that is not going to get better, not going to get worse. But, if it is used to prop up a horse that has a degenerative condition, then it can mask deterioration of the horse's condition, and the horse can cause further injury. So, IMO a lot of the pro/con analysis can come down to whether the horse is truly an appropriate case for a neurectomy.


                          • Original Poster

                            Hi Madison. I can see where you are coming from. For now my plan is to ride him however nothing in the way that he was ridden before. I will be conscience of his every move for his own sake and safety reason. I am totally aware of what his feet feel and don't feel.

                            My plan of action for the future is to continue to Xray him yearly to make sure all is ok. Come a time when the disease has progressed and it would not be wise to ride any longer then my horse will be retired.


                            • #54
                              So, the mare got her nerve endings injected today and she should be cleared to go undersaddle by next week. So far, although only at the walk, she looks great and seems very happy. We shall see.... She has also dropped some weight over the last month, too, which can only help her soundness.


                              • Original Poster

                                Just a quick update. It has been a month and a few days. I rode my horse on Tuesday walk trot! It was like the first day I bought him home ... years ago! I am thrilled with his movement. Sound as can be, happy, floating trot... he knows where his kickers are!

                                This was the best thing I have ever done for him.

                                I wish everyone the same success with thier horses!

                                One question, AndNirina, why did the vet inject the nerve endings? Just curious.


                                • #56
                                  That's great Ozone. The horse in our barn that had the bilateral neurectomy surgery at the beginning of August is back to doing everything he did before, only better and much, much happier. He's jumping again and by all appearances loving it.
                                  "I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?" Dave Barry


                                  • #57
                                    Ozone, it was part of the mare's post-op care to inject steroids into the nerve endings. So, she was injected last Thursday and then I was able to ride her last Saturday. She's been in layup for the better part of 9 months (stifle and neurectomy), so of course she was kind of all over the place. By yesterday, though, her trot felt lovely and floaty and very sound. She seems very happy as well and I'm thrilled at my decision, too. Glad that all is going well for your guy and the horse from Portia's barn.


                                    • #58
                                      Update us please

                                      Ozone & others -

                                      How are your horses doing now? Are they friskier in the cool weather now that their feet don't hurt?

                                      Hope they're doing great!


                                      • #59
                                        I know this thread was from August and November of 2010 ---- read the entire thread after finding out a horse I have had for three years was nerved before I got him - I had no idea. I did notice the white hairs developing around the surgery site but thought it might have been due to old age...

                                        I read that the nerves can regenerate? To date, my horse still has no feeling in the heel bulbs....

                                        I have surfed the net looking for answers and actually this thread was the best thing I found so that's the reason for bringing it up out of the past.

                                        I know NOTHING about nerving and never been around a horse that has been nerved. He seems normal and I "was" jumping him... but now I have some guilt I guess... I don't want to hurt him....
                                        Live in the sunshine.
                                        Swim in the sea.
                                        Drink the wild air.


                                        • #60
                                          Just curious if anyone who had the neurectomy could update the thread on their horse's soundness? And if they returned to work? I'm at a crossroads with my guy and whether or not I should do the procedure. Thanks!