Short Communication

Post-anaesthetic myelomalacia in a horse : clinical communication

K.E. Joubert, N. Duncan, S.E. Murray
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 76, No 1 | a392 | DOI: | © 2005 K.E. Joubert, N. Duncan, S.E. Murray | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 June 2005 | Published: 12 June 2005

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K.E. Joubert,
N. Duncan,
S.E. Murray,

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This article describes a rare neurological complication of anaesthesia in a 2 year-old Clydesdale colt undergoing castration. Anaesthesia was induced with glyceryl guaiacol ether and ketamine and maintained with halothane. Following an uneventful anaesthetic of 40 minutes, the horse recovered from anaesthesia in a padded recovery stall. After approximately 70 minutes in the recovery stall, the horse attempted to stand and adopted a dog sitting position. One hundred and fifty minutes later, the horse became distressed and was sedated with xylazine. Clinical examination of the horse did not reveal any evidence of myositis or fractures. A neurological examination revealed an intact anal reflex, deep pain response in the hind legs, tail tone and voluntary movement of the hind legs was possible. The horse deteriorated neurologically over the next 24 hours and was euthanased on humane grounds. The horse was submitted for necropsy. Gross pathology was unremarkable except for a small amount of haemorrhage around the right kidney. Histopathology revealed no abnormalities in any muscle groups or peripheral nerves. Congestion and axonal swelling of the spinal cord was evident from T16 to S1. Ischaemic neurons were evident from L 1 to L 6. The most prominent lesions were at L4 and L5. A diagnosis of myelomalacia was made. This is a rare complication of anaesthesia in horses with 9 case studies appearing in the literature since 1979. This is the 1st case to be reported in South Africa. The speculated pathophysiology and risk factors for this complication are discussed.


Anaesthetic Complications; Equine; Myelomalacia


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