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Tie back surgery

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  • Tie back surgery

    Looking for input on tie back surgery - the good, bad, and the ugly are all appreciated as I decide whether to move forward or not. Horse was just diagnosed stage 3/4 and vet is recommending surgery but I’m torn due to the potential complications and potential failure of the surgery.

    Thank you

  • #2
    Here's what I understand about the surgery. Most of the time it works with no complications and it is amazing and wonderful.

    Complications are rare, However, when they do happen, they can be very bad and are always a possibility (even with the best surgeons at the best clinics - it still happens).

    Complications include - Some horses develop problems with aspirating feed resulting in aspiration pneumonia. This can be prevented/solved by feeding from the floor. However, sometimes the feeding from the floor thing does not always work and feed/mucous end up coming out of the horses nose at feeding time and the asp pneumonia can develop. Sometimes these complications cannot be fixed and can result in retirement.

    Another potential complication is the stitches breaking. It can happen.

    Have you considered Ventriculectomy/Cordectomy (sometimes referred to as VCS)? This can be done via laser - standing. The surgeon removes the ventricle and vocal cord via laser. This is much less invasive, does not require GA and risk of complications is very very low. Usually horse can be sent home the day after. No drainage site to deal with, although the tissue in the area will be inflamed from the laser. I believe the protocol is 30 days' stall rest or, if the horse must go out, then put in a small paddock. More basic info is here.

    The laser VCS can be a potential first step in solving the roaring. It is good for horses whose job doesn't require full, 100% oxygenation (so hunters, dressage) - so not for upper level eventers and race horses who do need max O2 - they really need to just get the tie-back. Rood & Riddle does VCS standard as part of the tie-back surgery. Perhaps all surgeons include VCS standard with the tie-back - but I only know of the R&R standard protocol.

    That's all I got. Hope it helps!


    • #3
      The coughing complication is scary. I have an OTTB that had tie back surgery early in his career -- he coughs, sometimes rather violently and sometimes not at all while eating hay/feed and also drinking from the water trough.

      Doesn't seem to matter where his feed tub etc. is placed -- I've tried every position; no happy medium -- he will still cough, or not. No aspiration pneumonia though, and I've had him for years. But that doesn't mean it can't happen.