Padraig Kelly Equine Veterinary Service has established a surgery facility specifically for performing transphyseal screw surgeries, meaning that no colic surgeries or sick foals are present at any time in the hospital or surgery unit.
Our service prides itself on weekly farm visits to ensure that your foal has recovered well post-surgery, and also offering screw removal on-farm. Our preference is to remove the screws under standing sedation, utilising local anaesthetic which reduces the necessity for a second general anaesthetic and transportation costs.
If your foal requires a transphyseal screw surgery, all you need to do is contact a member of our friendly team to schedule the surgery. Both the mare and foal can be dropped off by lunchtime on the day of the surgery and collected the same afternoon.
There are six fully air-conditioned boxes in the surgery facility where both mare and foal can be stabled safely in a quite environment. For optimal results, the foal should be between six to eight weeks of age.
This surgery is a very quick procedure, ensuring that there is minimal stress involved. We also administer a sedative to the mare to reduce any anxiety while the foal is in surgery.
As soon as the surgery is complete, we will contact each owner and stud manager directly to inform them how the surgery went and to let them know that the foal has recovered safely from the anaesthetic and is ready to travel home.
Once your foal has had the surgery and has been discharged from the clinic, detailed instructions on bandaging, antibiotics and aftercare will be provided with each foal. The foal is then monitored on-farm to assess correction of the angular limb deformity.
It is paramount to assess the limbs on a weekly basis as foals can go through rapid growth spurts at that age. Generally, the implant is removed between four to six weeks post-surgery however this timeframe varies with each individual. It is important to remove them at the correct time to prevent any under or over correction.
Recovery and monitoring are essential in the process to ensure we achieve the best possible outcome for both you and your foal.
Our veterinary team
Padraig Kelly Equine Veterinary Services is headed by Dr Padraig Kelly who has overseen the conformation exams and performed transphyseal surgeries on hundreds of foals.
Padraig graduated from University College Dublin in 2007 and subsequently completed a surgical internship at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Kentucky. Padraig has a wealth of experience in assessing young foal conformation and oversaw the weekly conformation examinations on all resident foals at Coolmore Australia during his 10 years there as resident veterinarian. Since 2012 Padraig and his team have performed the transphyseal screw surgeries on all foals requiring surgical intervention.
Padraig is aided by Fiona who performs the anaesthesia on all our patients. Fiona graduated from Murdoch University in Western Australia in 2011 and completed an internship at Goulbourn Valley Equine Hospital. During her internship Fiona received intensive anaesthetic training and safely performed the anaesthesia on over 100 foals for transphyseal screw surgeries during the 2018 stud season alone.
Our experienced trio is completed by Kayleigh who worked closely with Padraig for the past six years at Coolmore where she managed all Mr Magnier’s foals, assisted with their surgeries and oversaw all their aftercare and bandaging. Kayleigh travelled to Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in 2018 to complete a veterinary nursing medicine internship and she also qualified with a Certificate Four in Veterinary Nursing.
Foaling season is well underway, and it is an important time for your foal’s development, particularly when it comes to conformation.
Unfortunately, not all foals are born perfect and some foals require help in correcting their legs to ensure they are developing correctly. For some foals, this will mean they undergo a transphyseal screw surgery.
The transphyseal screw surgery explained
A transphyseal screw surgery is where a self-tapping cortex screw is placed across the growth plate on one side of the animal’s limb coursing from the metaphysis to the epiphysis. Its intention is to correct the lateral or medial deviation in the affected limb.
Some foals develop angular limb deformities which is a deviation of the limb in the frontal plane, and most commonly affects the fetlock and the carpus of the limb. This can then add extra pressure on one side of the joint in question.
Angular limb deformities are corrected in order to improve the cosmetic appeal of the foal, potential commercial value, and most importantly, athletic performance.
Correction of the angular limb deformity is essential to improve the conformational defect as well as preventing secondary degenerative changes that may result from abnormal biomechanical stresses on the deviated limb.
A transpyhseal surgery should have no negative affect on the growth and development of a foal when performed correctly. The screw implant will be in situ for a relatively short time period and the optimal objective of performing this surgery is to produce an individual with correct skeletal conformation for athletic purposes.
The distal growth plate of the cannon bone accounts for only 5% of growth in the total length of the bone.
Padraig Kelly Equine Veterinary Services has an experienced and efficient team which allows a single limb surgery to take less than 30 minutes and a bilateral surgery to take approximately 45 minutes.
All surgeries carry a minor anaesthetic risk however this procedure is considered one of the safest due to the short anaesthetic time period taken.
The foal is monitored carefully during anaesthetic recovery, allowing the foal to return home on the day of surgery. If required, overnight stays can be facilitated by request.
The surgical table was designed with this type of surgery in mind. The foal lies in lateral recumbency allowing good access to the fetlock joints and distal cannon bones. The anaesthetic machine has also been modified specifically to anaesthetise young foals between 100kg and 250kg.
Padraig Kelly Equine Veterinary Services have installed an electric hoist which enables a smooth transition of the foal to and from the surgery table. The recovery room also has a new soft rubber floor installed and the walls have been fully padded to optimise safety.