The Victorian Equine Group has a 24-hour emergency service and welcomes referrals from other veterinarians.
Lameness and Poor Performance
The Bendigo Equine Hospital has a flat, level trot-up area and a lunge ring to allow examination of lameness cases.
We have a range of diagnostic equipment, including digital radiography and ultrasonography to allow accurate and detailed diagnoses to be made.
In cases of poor performance in racehorses, we have all the equipment necessary to ascertain the cause of sub-optimal performance on the racetrack. This includes upper respiratory tract endoscopy, tracheal wash and bronchoalveolar lavages (“lungwashes”) and electrocardiographic (ECG) examinations.
In addition, we have a recently purchased "Dynamic Respiratory Scope" . This is an endoscope placed in the horses throat whilst exercising. The image is recorded onto a device attached to the horses bridle. This allows us to view the throat during strenuous exercise, and we are confident this tool will revolutionize the diagnosis and treatment of upper respiratory tract conditions.
Stem Cell Therapy
This is a treatment that has now been available for several years in most specialised equine practices, to treat tendon and ligament injuries; the aim is to improve the quality of healing tissue replacing damaged tissues. Stem cells are harvested from the bone marrow of the sternum (or sometimes hip). At the Bendigo Equine Hospital, the stem cells are used in one of two ways:
- Direct injection of bone marrow; this results in the injection of some stem cells, as well as multiple growth factors contained within the bone marrow.
- Stem cells are cultured; the bone marrow is sent to a specialised laboratory where the stem cells are selected, and then cultured to produce a greater number of stem cells. These are sent back to the clinic.
In both instances the raw bone marrow or stem cells are then re-injected into the damaged tendon. It must be remembered that these treatments aim to produce a replacement tissue that is of a better quality; it does not replace the overall time required for tissue healing or the need for a rehabilitation programme. We will also advise on appropriate rehabilitation programs for soft-tissue injuries in racing and performance horses.
This is another form of “regenerative therapy”, like stem cells. It is used, also like stem cells, to stimulate healing of tendon and ligament injuries. The process involves a sterile collection of blood from the horse, which is then centrifuged to remove red blood cells and white blood cells, leaving fluid that is rich in platelets. This platelet rich plasma (PRP) is then injected into the tendon or ligament. The PRP contains high levels of growth factors to “direct” healing of the tissue. Like stem cells (see above) it does not alter the time needed for healing or the need for rehabilitation programmes.
This is a new treatment aimed at managing the symptoms (lameness and poor performance) and progression of osteoarthritis (joint inflammation) and degenerative joint disease. The procedure involves a sterile collection of the horses blood followed by incubation and processing to retrieve a serum rich in IRAP® protein. This protein combats the effect of interleukin-1; one of the culprits responsible for inflammation and degradation of structures within the joint. The samples are kept frozen until use, when they are injected into the joint under sterile conditions. IRAP® is useful both for ongoing medical management of joint disease and post arthroscopic surgery.
Tildren™ or “tiludronic acid” is a “biphosphonate”. It is licenced for use to treat navicular disease and bone spavin, although it is now being used for many other conditions (with varying levels of scientific evidence). Its basic mode of action is to inhibit bone resorption. Normal bone structure is achieved by a balance of bone being layed down, and bone being removed; this dynamic process ensures that bones adapt regularly to the stresses we place on them. Tildren™ is indicated in a wide range of lameness cases caused by osteolysis (increased bone resorption). We would be happy to discuss whether or not your horse is a good candidate for the use of this drug.