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tieback surgery and coughing

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  • tieback surgery and coughing

    Could I get information about tieback surgery and a lingering cough? Does the cough ever go away? Get better or worse with exercise? Limitations or restrictions on the horse and activity level?


  • #2
    IME, the cough is one of the possible side effects, and the big thing is making sure the horse is fed from the ground (no hay racks or hay bags tied up). My mare had tie back surgery when young (3 or 4) and never had much of a chronic cough until much later in life, when retired and in her teens. Always made sure she was fed from the ground, and I think wetting the hay can help if you have one that is actually coughing. If it was a new thing, where they went from no cough to coughing, I'd probably have the horse checked out as sometimes the tie back will loosen and need to be redone.


    • #3
      I am wondering if it is a side effect from the surgery or something that is caused by the original problem (an improperly working larynx.) I have a roarer who has not had surgery. He is 7 this year and is now coughing a bit after he eats. So if I had had the surgery done last year and he started coughing this year, I might have thought it was from the surgery when actually it would have happened anyway.


      • #4
        My OTTB had is lasered off before I bought him. He coughs all the time. I don't ride him anymore, but when I did coughing was definitely a problem.


        • #5
          I seem to recall that the cough was something I was warned about as a possible side effect of the surgery. Because you are basically tying back that little flap, the windpipe stays open and is more prone to stuff going down it...that's why I was told it was so important to feed at ground level. My mare's surgery was over 15 years ago, so what they do now in terms of surgery and possible side effects might be a lot different (such as the mention of layering off, above! Don't recall that as an option when my mare was done).


          • #6
            My horse had tieback surgery back in 2006. He came out of it fine and has no breathing issues. I think he coughs as much as any other horse, which is only occasionally. He is in no way limited activity wise. Before the surgery he would actually refuse to do certain things because he couldn't get enough air. Of course nothing is guaranteed with the surgery, and I'm sure some horses don't recover normally.
            I will say I almost fainted when I first saw him after surgery. They left a big open hole under his jaw that just had to close on its own. I had to clean the edges daily, ick. First time I saw him he took a drink and water came out the hole, nasty!


            • #7
              Originally posted by morsekg View Post
              I will say I almost fainted when I first saw him after surgery. They left a big open hole under his jaw that just had to close on its own. I had to clean the edges daily, ick.
              Mine had two! The small hole at the jaw and then also a larger tracheotomy (sp?) lower on her throat. I was not prepared for that! She was breathing through the lower one and it sounded like Darth Vader -- showed up with her in the trailer at my barn and trainer was like, "WHAT is that noise?! She's noiser than when she left [for surgery]!" Mine had also gotten a nerve pinched when they turned her or something, so one side of her face was paralyzed. It eventually recovered, but it was pretty shocking to see her like that.


              • #8
                I guess they don't have big incisions anymore. The people that I have talked to who have had the surgery recently have told me they go through the throat now. The ones who had surgery several years ago always talk about the incisions. Not sure I would want to deal with that!


                • #9
                  Mine had two! The small hole at the jaw and then also a larger tracheotomy (sp?) lower on her throat. I was not prepared for that! She was breathing through the lower one and it sounded like Darth Vader -- showed up with her in the trailer at my barn and trainer was like, "WHAT is that noise?! She's noiser than when she left [for surgery]!" Mine had also gotten a nerve pinched when they turned her or something, so one side of her face was paralyzed. It eventually recovered, but it was pretty shocking to see her like that.
                  Mine did have another incision up the side of his throat right behind the jaw line, but it was stapled shut and therefore not as disturbing!

                  I do wish I had been there to pick him up after the surgery. The driver didn't even tell me, I just grabbed my horse off the trailer and had to hand him off to my husband (then boyfriend) so I could sit down!

                  I will also say my horse has the silliest quiet whinny and knicker now, it's a super low rumble and very unique.

                  Anyone else have a horse with this problem who also has other issues? Mine seems to always have weight issues (chronically underweight) as well as a possible immune problem (constant scratches like issue). He's also an insanely tall TB.


                  • #10
                    My horse had tie back in April. His cough has gradually subsided. Currently he only does it when we first start working.

                    I was warned by several about the holes under the chin from the vocal cord removal, however, my surgeon did this with a laser and the only incision was on the left side just behind the jaw. It had about 20 staples...very clean.
                    Never Ride Faster Than Your Guardian Angel Can Fly
                    Way Back Texas~04/20/90-09/17/08
                    Green Alligator "Captain"


                    • #11
                      My horse had the tieback surgery done when he was on the track but his performance didn't improve and I bought him soon after. He had a chronic cough that gradually got worse, as well as constant lung infections from inhaled food. I eventually had the prosthesis removed and he was much improved for several years. Gradually he began coughing badly again whenever he was worked and the surgeon operated to clean up the scar tissue remaining. He was great after this and didn't have a problem for the next five years until his death recently (not related). I would be very hesitant to have the tieback operation done on any horse that didn't have a really severe breathing problem.