Reasons for performing study: Castration is one of the most common routine surgical procedures performed in the horse, from which a number of potential complications can arise. We undertook a prospective evaluation of short-term complications associated with castration of draught colts over a 3-year period (1998–2000).
Objectives: To compare castration complications in a large number of draught foals with previously published literature.
Methods: Five hundred and sixty-eight draught colts, age 4 or 5 months, were castrated in field conditions. Foals were observed for complications for 24 h post operatively.
Results: There was no significant difference in complication rates between open and closed surgical techniques. Inguinal/scrotal hernia rate was 4.6% (26/568) prior to surgery, and evisceration of the small intestine occurred in 4.8% (27/568). Foals observed to eviscerate underwent immediate surgical correction with an overall survival rate of 72.2% (13/18). Omental herniation was seen in 2.8% (16/568) of colts.
Conclusions: This study showed no difference between the closed and open techniques of castration and the rate of omental herniation or evisceration. The evisceration rate in combination with the omental and presurgical herniation rates approached 12.2%, which is high enough to warrant further examination.
Potential relevance: Future investigation should help to assess predisposing factors for evisceration. Regardless of the technique employed, herniation appears to pose a significant risk to draught foals undergoing castration.