Last month one curious foal stole our hearts with her naughty leap inside a small pen after a ruptured bladder operation – Lucy shares the story
Last month we told readers about how, during foaling, one of our foals suffered a bladder rupture which required medical stabilisation and surgical repair at an equine hospital. The vets at Western Counties Equine Hospital, our closest surgical facility, have since used the case on their website and have given permission for us to adapt their transcript for our readers this month, so we hope you find this interesting.
The vet’s view
Clinical signs of bladder ruptures which have occurred during foaling are typically seen in one-to-three-day-old foals; they become lethargic, may appear bloated, show mild colic signs and can sometimes be seen straining unproductively to urinate.
These cases are medical emergencies, as the electrolyte disturbances can cause heart rhythm irregularities – and ultimately cardiac arrest.
First urination should normally occur around six hours for colts, and 11 hours for fillies. An average sized Thoroughbred foal should produce around 7.5 litres of urine a day, which equates to a good stream roughly every two hours after nursing. If a foal is straining unproductively, a meconium impaction (blocked colon) is far more common. However, a ruptured bladder should always be considered.
Observing urination doesn’t necessarily rule out a ruptured bladder, as the most common site of rupture is the top of the bladder – therefore a foal may appear to urinate normally, even while urine is leaking into the abdomen.
Studies have shown that the condition is more prevalent in colts than fillies, but it is observed in both. ‘Uroperitoneum’ describes urine in the abdominal cavity – this build-up of urine causes electrolyte disturbances, the most critical of which is high potassium. A high blood potassium concentration can cause heart irregularities and cardiac arrest.
A foal with this condition is stabilised with intravenous fluids, the abdomen is drained, and the foal’s blood parameters are carefully monitored. Once the condition is stabilised, the anaesthetic risk is reduced, and the foal can then undergo surgical repair of the bladder under general anaesthesia.
Hospital vet Eefje, who has a post-graduate certificate in medicine, stabilised the foal and can be seen in the photo (bottom, opposite) administering and monitoring the anaesthetic, ready for the surgeon, Nic, to repair the bladder.
These cases are a team effort, with lots of intensive nursing care and monitoring, before and after surgery. As long as the foal presents with no other conditions, the prognosis for a ruptured bladder is favourable, with an 80 to 90 per cent survival rate.
And happily, our foal, after post-surgery weeks in a small turn-out pen as readers will remember from last month, is now enjoying life with the rest of the gang of younger foals, stretching her legs to the full while galloping around in a large field.
News of Trevor
We always track the racing progress of horses we have bred and sold on, but it is extra special to either see them in the flesh at a race meeting or to hear from an owner or groom. So it was lovely to have been contacted recently by the groom of Triple Trade, a six-year-old Norse Dancer gelding out of Doubly Guest, bred here at TGS and sold at the sales as a three-year old store. Now in training with the Tizzards near Milborne Port, he has won one race and been placed several times last season. His groom Holly sent us several lovely photos, including this one (bottom right) of him having a cuddle in the stable.
Holly told us how Trevor is such a big, kind horse and is very much her yard favourite. We hope that he and all our other TGS-bred offspring get many more cuddles like this.