Survey of equine castration techniques, preferences and outcomes among Australian veterinarians

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Abstract

Objectives

(1) To collect the perceptions of veterinarians performing equine castrations in Australia on techniques, preferences and outcomes, (2) to investigate veterinarian use and experience with the Henderson castrating instrument and (3) to investigate potential associations between demographics, castration methods and techniques, and complications.

Design

Online survey of members of the Australian Veterinary Association’s Special Interest Group, Equine Veterinarians Australia (EVA).

Methods

A link to the survey was included in the EVA e-newsletter and practices on the EVA website were contacted by telephone and follow-up email. Fisher’s exact test was used to determine associations between ligation and complications. A generalised linear model with a negative binomial family was used to determine associations between count response variables and categorical independent variables.

Results

Responses were obtained from 138 veterinarians (response rate, 13.1%) who performed 5330 castrations over 12 months. Castrations were most commonly performed in the field, on anaesthetised horses, using emasculators, via an open approach and without ligation of the spermatic cord. Estimated complications after use of emasculators were swelling (25%), haemorrhage (5%) and infection (5%). The Henderson instrument was used by approximately 10% of respondents and its use for castration was associated with fewer reports of postoperative swelling compared with emasculators (P = 0.002). Rates of evisceration with the Henderson and emasculator methods were comparable (0.43% and 0.9%, respectively).

Conclusion

Castration preferences varied widely among survey participants. Reported complication types and rates were comparable to those reported previously in other countries. Perceptions that the Henderson instrument was associated with less swelling should be investigated further via a prospective controlled investigation.

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