Complicated procedure saves horse’s life

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A Florida stallion is now recovering from a rare form of colic after a unique surgery at the University of Florida.

When the 20-year-old Friesian horse named Hannibal began showing signs of the potentially deadly illness, his owner brought him to U.F.’s large animal hospital where they found feed material trapped in his stomach.

The problem is, big horses have deep abdomens, while the stomach is small and hard to reach.

“So we had to do two things to access the stomach, one is make a very large midline incision and then join that with another incision that followed the back of his chest and that gave us good exposure but did not allow us to bring the stomach up to the level we wanted it,” said Dr. David Freeman, Professor of Equine Surgery at the University of Florida.

The surgery carried a high risk of contamination but using coverings to contain the area, specialists were able to remove up to two thirds of the impacted material.

“I hope that this helps somebody else recognize what could happen with their horse the miracle that they accomplished and that other surgeons, other vets can learn from it,” said Valerie Frederick, Hannibal’s owner.

The technique used to save Hannibal’s life was developed at U.F. and has only been used a handful of times due to its difficulty.

About the Authors:

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.