Tilt Table Recovery of Horses After Orthopedic Surgery: Fifty-Four Cases (1994–2005)


  • Presented in part at the 15th Annual Scientific Meeting European College of Veterinary Surgeons, June 2006, Seville, Spain.

Address reprint requests to Dr. Colette R. Elmas DVM, Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-4802. E-mail: colette.elmas@oregonstate.edu.


Objective— To describe an assisted anesthetic recovery technique using a tilt table for horses after high-risk orthopedic-related procedures and to evaluate outcome.

Study Design— Retrospective study.

Sample Population— Anesthetic recoveries (n=54) for 36 horses.

Methods— Medical records (April 1994–October 2005) for horses that had high-risk orthopedic surgery and recovery from general anesthesia on a tilt table were reviewed. Information about the surgical procedure, anesthetic and recovery period was analyzed.

Results— Of 54 anesthetic recoveries, 1 horse (1.9%) had complete failure of internal fixation during recovery and was euthanatized. Six (11% recoveries) horses failed to adapt to the tilt table system, which necessitated transfer to a conventional recovery room. Complications without important consequences for clinical outcome (skin abrasions, myositis, cast breakage, partial implant failure) occurred during 8 (15%) recoveries.

Conclusions— A tilt table recovery system was associated with minimal incidence of serious complications. Potential disadvantages of the system are the number of personnel required, longer recovery time, and the need for a specialized table.

Clinical Relevance— A tilt table is a useful system for recovering horses believed to be at increased risk of injury during anesthetic recovery after high-risk orthopedic-related procedures.