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Kissing Spines Surgery?

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  • Kissing Spines Surgery?

    I recently saw a Horse & Hound article in the bathroom at my barn on kissing spines. It mentioned surgery as an option. I know it's invasive and I know it has an extensive rehab period, but that seems to be all the information I can find.

    I was wondering, then, if anyone could offer insight into the surgery option? If they've ever had a horse go through the surgery and if it worked? The average price also seems to be horribly elusive when I google the subject, so if anyone knows an estimate, that'd be great to know.

    And before anyone tries to tell me about the other treatment options available, I'd like to note that my horse gets injections in his kissing spines (determined by x-ray to be in the lumbar region of his back) and his SI joint every 6 months. He gets follow-up mesotherapy, usually about 3 sessions, and then additional mesotherapy as he needs it/I can afford it. He also gets adjusted by a DVM chiropractor every month. He's only 10 years old and has been diagnosed with kissing spines for 1 1/2 years. We live in central KY and I'm very confident that top-notch vets are taking care of him. I feel like I've done just about everything I can to manage it but he's still pissy, he's not fun to ride, he half-asses most everything under saddle, and he moves like crap. The only thing he seems to enjoy is jumping, but even then he's much slower and stickier than he used to be. We even have him on 1 g of generic, compounded gastrogard daily to eliminate the possibilities of ulcers affecting his health and demeanor (he was diagnosed with ulcers 3 yrs ago). I know that underneath the pain he's a very sweet horse and I'd love to own that horse again.

  • #2
    I had surgery done on my mare by an about-to-retire professor/surgeon from CSU and my normal vet who is also a surgeon. Neither had done the surgery before. I decided to go for it because mare had only 3 spines involved, with the outer two leaning in and touching the center spine. The 3 spines were located in the usual place - directly under the lowest point of the dip behind the withers, directly under the saddle. If she had had a long row of touching spines, surgery may not have been possible or would have been much more invasive and expensive. The surgeon basically crunched the center spine down to the nub with a pliers, ending the rubbing. He said there was a lot of ulceration and my mare surely was in great pain (absolutely had been for a long time).
    It was actually an easy lay-down surgery and she went home the same day with a big roll of cotton sutured to her backbone. Stall rest for a week or so, then gradually expanding corrals from 12' square to 24' square for 6 weeks and handwalking. The first time she was allowed to trot on the longe at 6 weeks, she was fabulous as all signs of pain were gone, although it took about 2 months before I could press hard down on that spot without a reaction. I think I rode her (in a western saddle with a hole cut out of the pad) at about 2+ months after surgery. Depending on the X-rays, I would certainly do it for another horse. My mare actually took longer to resolve all the muscle issues she had developed from twisting to avoid the pain than to recover from the surgery.

    One pointer: My very smart regular vet was adamant about carefully X-raying with a BB taped over the central spine to be removed, and doing that over until the BB was exactly in place. Then she injected some dye under the skin in that spot. When the surgeon cut the skin on the mark , he found he was an inch off the dye spot because the skin had shifted that much when the mare was laid down on the inflatable surgery table.

    I know that shockwave will help mild cases quite a bit, but not my mare as she was too bad. She could never have been retired as a broodmare and carried the weight of a foal as painful as she was.

    I think I paid somewhere around $1800 -2000 about 8 years ago. A big clinic would be a lot more money, I would guess.
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