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Schirrous Cord, Complication of a Routine Castration Procedure

Schirrous cord  is an infection in the distal part of the cord that attaches the testicle to the abdominal cavity, which is left behind. This can result in the formation of a closed abscess.

Schirrous cord is the second most common complication seen when castrating horses, the first being excessive hemorrhage.

Although castration is the most common Equine Field surgery it is also the number one reason for malpractice suits in the Equine industry. 

There are several ways to preform castrations:

1) standing castration 

2) castration in general anesthesia

They can be preformed in the field, in a small paddock in a clean stall or in a surgery room, on an operating table with a sterile technique. They can be preformed in a “closed” manner, “open” or a “semi closed” castration method. Suture placement on the cord is optional and depends largely on the preferences of the surgeon performing the castration

Most castrations are done in the field and it is the Veterinarians responsibility to decide if the surroundings are fit. For example, a muddy field would not be suited for the post operative stage, where we are cautious about infection.

Castrations are usually successful when done correctly, complications are rare but do occur. 

A Schirrous cord is an infection of the cord and is usually seen when there are many horses castrated in a non sterile environment or in a poorly fashion. Although some clinicians would agree that castration is not a sterile procedure most clinicians would agree that it is best to keep it as clean as possible using antiseptic scrub solutions and sterile emasculators. 

The pictures below are of a surgery in a sterile environment, an Equine Hospital, to resolve the infection that has occurred in the cord. It is important to understand that Schirrous cord will not resolve with antibiotics. Usually the signs are a mild fever, the horse is uncomfortable and most importantly there is drainage of purulent (pus) material from the incision that does  to close after the 14 day post op period. On palpation there is a hard, open and draining tissue felt. the infection is trapped inside and the infected part of the cord needs to be removed. Once the part of the healthy cord is found it is severed and crushed with a pair of sterile emasculators. Usually there is hemorrhage and a  laparotomy sponge can be left in for a period of 48 hours.

Schirrous Cord, Complication of a Routine Castration Procedure 1

Schirrous Cord, Complication of a Routine Castration Procedure 2

Schirrous Cord, Complication of a Routine Castration Procedure 3

Schirrous Cord, Complication of a Routine Castration Procedure 5

Schirrous Cord, Complication of a Routine Castration Procedure 7

2 comments Get an avatar

  1. The vet should go through the scrotum rather than the abdomen (unpleasant I know, sorry) as going through the abdomen is unnecessary. It’s all external and very low-risk – the main risk was anaesthetic but so many advances have been made it isn’t even a big risk now with a good vet.

  2. Great, thanks for sharing this blog post.Much thanks again.

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