Equine and Camelid Castration

Castration Summary Points

Key Takeaways

  • Castration is an elective procedure. Make sure your patient is healthy, able to be handled and has 2 testicles
    • Early castration leads to delayed growth plate closure and taller, finer boned and straighter-limbed animals
    • Early castration may result in narrowed urethras
  • Give analgesics preoperatively to prevent windup phenomenon. Local blocks help.
    • continue analgesics postoperatively
  • Most recumbent anesthesia procedures use xylazine/detomidine/romifidine combined with ketamine. Adding butorphanol, diazepam or midazolam, or guafenesin can increase the effective duration and smooth recovery
    • Detomidine gel is absorbed through mucous membranes and can provide some sedation (takes about 30 min to work)
    • Diazepam doesn’t play well with others; can be mixed with ketamine but not xylazine
  • Tetanus toxoid is required. If the horse has been vaccinated within the past 6 months, that is usually considered adequate.
    • Tetanus antitoxin has side effects.
  • Preop penicillin (or ceftiofur) may decrease complication rates. Giving after the procedure is not as effective.
  • Surgery and recovery is best done in an open grassy field.
    • Field recoveries are generally low risk even with wild things but finishing with xylazine or romifidine (1/4 dose) can help smooth things
    • You can keep a horse down by controlling the head and neck (sit on the neck, hold the nose up)
    • Remove the halter to avoid pressure on the facial nerve
  • Closed castration is preferred in young animals; open castration in horses with large arteries
    • The more I do, the less I like closed castrations
  • Don’t remove any testicles unless you are sure you can see both
  • Plan for complications and ensure you have needed supplies
    • Especially suture and more drugs
  • If hemorrhage or evisceration develop, re-anesthetize the horse.
  • Most common complication is postoperative swelling due to early closure of the wound
    • Exercise is important for minimizing swelling postop
    • Make big holes and stretch the skin to make the incision as big as possible
    • Leave holes open!
    • If the incisions close, they can be reopened using your fingers. Twitch the horse first!
  • Inguinal hernias in foals usually resolve on their own. Surgery or medical care is not needed.
  • Cryptorchid stallions are not ideal breeding candidates.
  • Proud cut doesn’t exist despite continued beliefs from horse owners and horse vets
    • So just remove the epididymis and don’t blame it
  • You have less control over standing castrations



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Large Animal Surgery - Supplemental Notes Copyright © by Erin Malone, DVM, PhD is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.