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Equine Practice
Anaesthesia for minor surgical procedures in the horse
  1. Garry Stanway

    Garry Stanway graduated from Liverpool University in 1995 after which he worked as a locum assistant anaesthetist in the Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge. Having worked in general practice in Lancashire and as a small animal practitioner and equine anaesthetist in Yorkshire, he moved to Australia where he worked as a resident in critical care and emergency medicine at Murdoch University in Perth. He is currently working as a locum veterinarian in Yorkshire. He obtained the certificate in veterinary anaesthesia in 1997.


EQUINE anaesthesia is a notoriously risky procedure, with around 1 per cent of horses reported to die within seven days of anaesthesia. This high mortality rate reflects psychological and physiological differences between horses and other large animals. The relative risk to the patient increases with prolonged surgery or when operations are carried out outside normal practice hours; the risk may also increase in the case of surgery performed to correct abdominal catastrophes such as colic, or caesarean sections. Therefore, in an attempt to minimise the risks to the animal, equine anaesthesia usually takes place in purpose-built operating theatres, where the facilities for safe induction and recovery are available, along with a barrage of hi-tech monitoring equipment. Nevertheless, it is possible to carry out minor surgical procedures in the field without recourse to these specialist facilities.

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