(Part two--Again, WARNING of graphic content---)
***Patent Urachus--Older experienced mare foaled without complications and the foal was up, healthy and bright-- but he started looking dull on the second day, and his muzzle was covered with sticky milk-- a sign that a baby is attempting to nurse but not getting the job done so the milk is dripping/spraying on their nose rather than getting into their mouth like it should. The foal had an elevated temperature and seemed a little bloated, and I THOUGHT I had seen him urinate, but I was second guessing myself now--
I called my vet, and (my mistake) wondered aloud about a ruptured bladder. They said they didn't even want to see him if there was a chance he had a ruptured bladder-- they recommended he go straight to MSU (an hour trailer drive to a very good but very expensive Veterinary Teaching College, Michigan State University). Luckily (in comparison LOL) before I hung up I witnessed the foal urinating--- BUT.... he was uriating out of his navel.
This is called Patent Urachus, and it means that a passageway that should be closed when the foal is born is open, or has re-opened. (when in utero the foal sends liquid waste back up the umbilical cord for the mom's body to take care of-- this ceases when the foal is born, the urachus closes, and new foal urinates out of the appropriate orifice.) The urachus can be slow to close, or it can be reopened by the presence of an infection in the umbilicus.
Patent Urachus needs immediate vet attention, but is nowhere near as serious as a ruptured bladder. Vet came out, we started him on 2X daily antibiotics-- I gave him pennecillin shots IM in the hip each morning, and the vet came out each evening to give him IV Zithromax. We also laid him down daily and the vet inserted a stick tipped with silver nitrate into the umbilicus to cauterize it--to speed up healing and closure. Each day the stick would go in less deep, meaning the passageway was closing. This vet had a couple days off over the weekend and sent out an associate vet-- when she inserted the silver nitrite stick I panicked as I noticed she pushed it up at least two inches further than we had been inserting it the previous two days!
We let the foal up and sure enough he started showing signs of extreme pain and distress-- I thought she had skewered and killed my foal. She went to her truck and called the other vet-- I couldn't hear the conversation but I could see her face and it was not reassuring. She said that the other Dr. said that she had just broken through the previously cauterized healing/scar tissue-- not to panic, but treat him like a colic, as it would be painful like that. We treated him with painkiller, tranquilizer, and anti-inflammatory, and she said she would be back in a few hours to check on him-- I sat with his head on my lap for the entire time bawling, but he came out of it OK. Vet bill for the week old foal so far? $2000.
***Dystocia (means foal not positioned properly to be born)-- I had been up all night the previous night with a mare dripping milk, and I saw thefoal moving around A LOT, and mare acted restless but no foal, and she quieted down around dawn. This is not too uncommon, as the foal has to move into position, and it seemed normal at the time. I watched her closely all the next day.
The next evening I witnesed her water break-- but no amnion bubble, no feet appearing after a few minutes. The mare was not distressed-- in fact she didn't seem to be having contractions. After 15 minutes I called the vet (45 minutes to an hour away) knowing that if there was a problem, it was likely we would lose the foal before the vet arrived. I scrubbed and went up into the mare shoulder-deep, and could feel NO foal anywhere. Vet arrived and also could feel no foal in the birth canal-- but thought he could feel the foal and uterus UNDER the mare's cervix. Loaded the mare up and off to MSU (see previous post about MSU).
Hour+ drive to MSU--The mare was still not having labor or contractions and was not even sweating. At this point, it was pretty clear we had lost the foal, but were figuring what to do to save the mare. C-section was a base price of $4000. If we thought the foal was alive, we would have opted for a C-section, but given the time that had passed, it was not realistic that there was a live foal. They could also attempt manual delivery under general anesthesia-- this would be considerably cheaper, (base price $2000) and cost unfortunately was a factor I had to consider. IF manual delivery failed, we could decide to go right to C section as she would already be anesthatized and prepped.
So she was anesthatized, laid on her back with her hind legs suspended, and several vets and students went to work. After considerable time and effort using OB chains and cables and vets switching off as they got fatigued, and some discussion of a fetonomy (fola is sectioned by a surgical wire saw and taken out in pieces-- can be dangerous to the mare if the wire slips or the foal pieces have sharp bone protruding) we were presented with a huge dead filly that looked just like her dam.
Filly had been laying on her back in the mare with her head and neck back and legs all folded in-- she had not turned so her head and forelegs could enter the birth canal, so they had to turn her and get all appropriate parts headed the right direction to get her delivered. Foal had probably died the night before when the mare was in labor but for whatever reason failed to positition and be delivered-- the labor at that time had caused placental detachment so she had no oxygen.
They then went back into the mare and to our extreme disappointment, found a huge tear in the mare's uterus. (at least football sized, they said). It could have been torn (or the tear could have started) by the strugglings of the foal trying to get born the night before, or it could have torn (or further torn) during manual delivery-- it was way to far forward to completely reach it vaginally-- from what they could reach, the tear was too large and had too many edges to even be able to find them all.
They gave me a less than 25% chance of the mare surviving, even if operated on and left with them in intenstive care. This would be due to the massive contamination that was already underway due to the uternine contents spilled into her abdominal cavity, as well as the size and seriousness of the tear and their inability to even reach it without full open abdominal surgery, not to mention the chances of secondary infections, colic, and complications during the long post-op period. We opted to euthanize the mare without waking her up-- she had apparently not been in distress whe she arrived and it seemed the kindest and most realistic option.
The vet college was both suprised and grateful that I asked if they wanted the mare and foal's body to use for further teaching and research-- I found out that they never ask for this, as they don't want to further upset a bereaved owner, and most owners opt for on site cremation or take home the remains to bury on the farm. I was grateful for their help and thought if the remains could help more upcoming vets help more people it was a fitting and dignified end for a great sweet mare and the filly who never had a chance to live. Vet bill for dead mare and dead foal-- $2500. Hauled the empty trailer home.
I have more experiences from both my farm and the farm where I worked-- angular limb deformities requiring surgery, dead twins, aborted fetuses, mares rejecting their foals, foal born with a cleft palate, rhino exposure prior to the five month vaccination wiping out five pregnancies.... but rather than more gory details, I think I will go out and hug my home-bred, home-raised yearling and two year old to cheer myself back up.
Last edited by Eastowest; 05-29-2009 at 12:30 PM.