Castration is the removal of the testicles in a male animal. The surgical procedure is performed for numerous reasons including prevention of breeding, behavioral modification, removal of diseased testicles or the prevention of passage of undesirable inherited traits. The age that a stallion may be castrated varies greatly and is determined generally by the behavior of the stallion. We routinely recommend the castration of colts be performed around one year of age.
The procedure is done under general anesthesia. The horse is given injectable anesthetic agents for the procedure. The anesthetic lasts approximately 30-45 minutes. The drugs used for this anesthesia are very safe and effective. Following the injection of anesthesia, the horse is placed on his side and a rope is used to tie his upper hind leg up allowing visualization of the scrotum and testicles. The area is scrubbed with betadine scrub and rinsed with alcohol several times prior to the initiation of the surgery. An incision is made over each of the testicles and the testicles are removed one at a time. A large clamp called an emasculator is used to cut the testicle off and crimp the vessels at the same time. Following the removal of the testicles from their respective incisions, the small piece of skin between the two incisions is removed. This allows for more adequate drainage from the incision site post-operatively.
Following the surgical procedure the horse is aided in his recovery. Once standing the horse is allowed to find his “sea “ legs until he can be walked back to his stall. It should be noted that the vaccination history of the horse should be determined to make perfectly sure the horse is current on his tetanus vaccination.
The post-operative care includes the following:
- The horse is not allowed to eat for approximately one hour post surgically. This reduces his chances of choking.
- The horse is confined to a stall and kept quiet for the first 24 hours. This allows for swelling in the region of the inguinal rings. Horses will exhibit varying degrees of swelling in the area of the sheath.
- After the horse has had 24 hours of stall confinement, exercise and hydrotherapy are initiated. Cold water is sprayed on the sheath and hind legs. The pressure may be increased as the horse becomes more used to the water. Minimize direct water contact with the incisions. Indirect water on the incisions is okay. Exercise is essential for an uncomplicated recovery of your horse. The exercise allows for more adequate drainage of any fluid that has become compartmentalized. The exercise also increases the circulation in the region, which quickly reduces swelling and edema.
The use of anti-inflammatories and antimicrobial agents is not routinely used following a castration. They may be recommended in situations where swelling has become excessive or in the event of a rare post surgical or surgical complication.
The main post surgical complication for you to be aware of and on the look out for is post-surgical bleeding. Immediately post-surgery, a slow occasional drip of blood is acceptable. Streaming of blood is not acceptable and should be brought to the attention of your veterinarian. Over the course of the next few days following the surgery, any drainage should reduce and what remains should be more orangish-yellow and clearer.
If you have any questions regarding castrations please feel free to contact one of us. We will be glad to answer your questions.