Our patient this month is Sugar of Sugarbars (Teacup), a twelve year old bay mare owned by Gray-Leigh Wilson of Cherokee, TX. Gray-Leigh and her family pride themselves in raising and showing quality quarter horses.
When faced with a stifle injury that was going to keep this athletic mare from competition, the decision was made to take advantage of her great genetics and let her be a broodmare. There was, however, a drawback to pursuing this as well. Several years prior, while having her first foal, she had some complications during delivery and a recto-vaginal tear occurred. An RV tear occurs when a foal’s limb is pushed through the vaginal wall and into the rectum during the mare’s forceful contractions. As the foal is expelled from the birth canal all of the tissue between the vagina and rectum is destroyed, making one large fistula. Not only was the tear bad, but the length of time since the tear occurred made her a reproductive nightmare. She had basically been defecating into her uterus for several years. During her initial reproductive exam, approximately two gallons of pus was lavaged from her uterus, this was going to be a real challenge.
The decision was made to repair the severe tear and after there was adequate time to heal, perform a uterine culture and biopsy to determine if further treatment would be necessary, or if Teacup could reproduce again.
The week prior to surgery Teacup was started on a special diet to soften her stool to limit the strain on the suture line while she was defecating. The morning of surgery the mare was sedated and given an epidural to make her comfortable during the repair of the tear and reconstruction of her vagina and vulva. The two hour surgery required multiple layers of tedious suturing to repair all the damage that had occurred. To prevent further infection she was started on systemic antibiotics and continued on her special stool softening diet. After a ten day stay in the hospital, Teacup returned home to continue healing.
Two months later Teacup returned for a progress exam to see if the RV repair held. The tear was healed except for a small 1 cm fistula, which was repaired easily and a caslicks was also placed at this time to straighten her vulva lips. The culture and biopsy were performed at this time to determine if she would be reproductively sound again.
To everyone’s surprise, the uterine biopsy results were positive, however, the culture revealed an infection that needed to be treated. The infection was treated with antibiotics that were infused directly into her uterus for five days.
Due to the extensive scar tissue surrounding the RV repair; Dr. Seale recommended that Teacup not deliver any more foals. She would need to be an embryo donor mare from now on. Her first two cycles after her recovery were successful; she produced three embryos in two cycles.
Thanks to Dr. Seale for a successful surgery and Gray-Leigh for not giving up, a great broodmare’s career was saved.