Saturday, November 19, 2011

COW: Routine Castration(s)

Gelding horses is the most routine surgery done in equine practice. I thought you might enjoy seeing how this surgery is done in the field. What follows are pictures from a couple of castrations that I performed recently. The first victim was a Minature Donkey. The second is a 2yr. Fresian. Anesthesia, is of course an essential component, since most horses (or donkeys) are not necessarily fond of having their testicles cut off.

A word of caution: The pictures below are of the real word and involve real tissues. If you have a weak stomach and/or are in the midst of eating something, you may not want to scroll down.

We will start with the Donkey.

We use injectable anesthetic agents to anesthetize the patient.

Once the patient is out cold, the hind legs are restrained by tying them up with ropes.

After the area of interest is thoroughly scrubbed an incision is made over each testicle. The testicle is then identified and lifted from the incision.

Donkeys tend not to clot as well as horses do, so it is important when gelding donkeys to be sure the blood supply to the testicle is tied off well. We do this by ligating (tying an absorbable suture) tightly around the vasculature.

The testicle and epididymis are now ready to be transected from the patient. I like to place a clamp across the cord before cutting the cord.

It is essential to closely inspect the removed tissue to ensure that the testicle and epididymis have been removed in their entirety.

This is what it looks like once both testicle has been removed, but the cords are still being held in clamps.

Done. The incisions are not closed up, but rather are left open to heal by second intention. Significantly more complications are encountered if the incisions are sutured closed.

Now all that is left is to wait for the little guy to recover from anesthesia.

That is how it is done on a little one. Most of the time our patients are a bit larger. Here are some pictures of the same surgery, but on a much bigger horse.

General anesthesia is induced with an intravenous injection. This protocol usually gives us about 20 minutes of anesthesia.


Once the horse is down, we tie the hind leg forward, providing a nice space in which to work.

With the surgical site thoroughly scrubbed, an incision is made over each testicle. Often in these large, more ‘well developed’ horses, we will remove a portion of the scrotum. The testicle is then identified and easily extracted.

After the testicle has been exposed we ‘strip’ the cord by removing any overlying connective tissue, so that we are left with the testicle fully dissected from the adjoining tissues.

I like to ligate the blood supply to the testicle in these big horses, like we do with the donkeys.

With the cord tied and clamped, the testicle is cut off with a surgical tool known as an emasculator. This instrument is specifically designed for this procedure. It not only cuts off the testicle and epididymis while simultaneously crushing the blood supply.

The second testicle is removed in like fashion. Here are the fruits of our harvest.

That is pretty much how it is done.

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