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Multimodal therapy including electroacupuncture for the treatment of facial nerve paralysis in a horse



This Case Report describes a 5-year-old Standardbred gelding that was referred to the Equine Hospital of ONIRIS Veterinary School of Nantes, France for a surgical procedure under general anaesthesia. Anaesthesia was induced and maintained intravenously and the horse was placed in left lateral recumbency with a padded halter. On post operative Day 1, a post anaesthetic distal facial nerve branch paresis was diagnosed based on clinical signs. The horse was discharged on post operative Day 2 with medical treatment based on anti-inflammatory drug administration locally and systemically. The horse was re-examined 2 weeks after the surgery; the left partial facial paralysis was still present and associated with amyotrophy of the muscles supplied by the buccal branches of the facial nerve. In accordance with the owner, the horse was hospitalised to start an electrostimulation treatment. The horse was treated every day for the first 4 days, then every 2 or 3 days during the following 3 weeks, for a total of 11 sessions. At the end of the second week of treatment, the horse was able to normally prehend the food and atrophy seemed reduced. The horse was discharged from hospitalisation at the end of the third week of treatment with specific recommendations. One month after discharge from the hospital just a slight asymmetry could be noticed at rest. Six months later, the training season began and the horse was able to perform. Facial paralysis due to nerve compression is a well-known complication of anaesthesia. Gradual recovery of function over the weeks of treatment suggests that electroacupuncture may promote recovery and may hasten time of recovery.

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