Article Text

Equine Practice
Management of umbilical disorders in the foal
  1. Meredith Smith

    Meredith Smith graduated from Cambridge in 1999. She subsequently undertook an internship at the New Bolton Center, University of Pennsylvania, USA, and a residency at Leahurst, Liverpool, both in equine surgery. She holds the RCVS certificate in equine surgery (soft tissue) and is a diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Surgeons. Between 2004 and 2005, she worked in equine practice in Salisbury. She is currently undertaking a PhD at the Animal Health Trust to study magnetic resonance imaging of the distal limb of the horse.


UMBILICAL disorders in the foal arise in the immediate postpartum period as a direct consequence of either bacterial infection or incomplete contracture of the musculature of the body wall. The three most common disorders are umbilical hernia, persistent or acquired patent urachus, and umbilical abscessation. This article aims to assist the veterinarian in making a prompt diagnosis of these conditions and discusses how they may be managed. Simple umbilical hernias are readily corrected with an excellent outcome. Surgery to remove umbilical remnants is technically more difficult but, if uncomplicated, generally carries a good prognosis. Complications such as concurrent septic arthritis or advanced infection within the umbilical vein extending to the liver parenchyma carry a poor prognosis.

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