koda's lameness ~ 1 of 2

Late April, I posted an update on the status of Koda's ongoing lameness. Blocking was done and the result warranted an MRI. We hauled Koda to a reputable equine hospital for the MRI on May 9th. It is about 1.5 hours away, via Interstate highway. It was a day long event. Thankfully our daughter covered evening chores.

I was very nervous the entire drive. Not knowing what to expect. Koda has not left our place since we brought our horses home in 2018. He is not used to being hauled alone and has never been anywhere without either Nemo or Cierra.

The trailer passed Leo's inspection.

Do you think they would notice this isn't Koda?

The equine hospital was new to us. We have heard good things. Friends have taken their horses to see the reputable head vet. I was very impressed with the whole place and overall experience. They are very efficient, friendly and helpful.

Koda loaded/unloaded and walked right into the barn and to his hospital stall. Like he did it every day. I asked the gal who greeted us if we could watch the MRI. She said no. It never hurts to ask! I thought perhaps there would be a viewing window. We took her offer to see the MRI room & machine before Koda's procedure. I didn't even think of snapping a photo, sorry. The MRI machine images I've found on the 'net are much smaller and different.

Walking through the tall double big white doors to view the MRI room felt very much like walking through doors into a human ER. We learned horses have to tolerate having a chest high stiff cushion sandwiched around their entire leg - and stand still for the MRI. The tech said some horses don't mind the restriction of the cushion, other's do. 

The whole 
evaluation/sedation/imaging process would take around 4 hours. We left Koda and went into the nearest town for lunch etc. Leaving my horse with complete strangers, was a weird feeling!

It was a Monday and a lot of places were not open. We found a great neighborhood feeling restaurant/bar, with a large menu and great food. I would love to go back some time (under different circumstances!) to enjoy their rooftop seating and soak up the waterfront vista with live music. 

We headed back to the clinic. I reclined in the truck and read my book for a whileI had not heard from the clinic and was getting worried. Their 5pm closing time was rapidly approaching. 

I couldn't stand it anymore and went inside to Koda's stall. It was empty. More waiting.

Meanwhile, all kinds of crazy thoughts swirled through my head. I took a peek at their educational waiting room:


The second time I went inside to see if I could find out what was going on, I found Koda back in his stall. Drugged up and still hooked to needle ports. Looking forlorn. The MRI tech saw me and came over by us. I asked her if everything went okay. She said Koda was very well behaved and made up for all his peeing. Apparently geldings pee a lot (from fluids) during the MRI process. I was asked to hold Koda's head up for a while after she pulled the needles.

At last, it was time to review the initial MRI results with the vet. A committed knowledgeable guy. He apologized for the delay. They had an emergency and had to put a horse down, and connect with the owner. Completely understandable.

I was a bit shell shocked when he said that Koda had a lot of things going on with both his feet. He rattled a bunch of medical speak off, pointing things out while morphing through imaging. He did explain the main concern in layman's terms. Most of what the vet said went over my head. 

He mentioned that Koda didn't particularly like standing in the cushions. They were able to get very good imaging on his right side, but by the time they got to his left side Koda had enough. The tech had trouble getting him to stand still long enough to get clear images. In the end, they did get enough left imaging for comparison.

We headed home and the MRI was sent off for an expert to read. Their report came back with 11 concerns listed on his right foot and 9 on the left. Several observations were listed as mild. I can only assume some are common for a horse his age (15).

notable right side imaging

It reminded me of something my mother used to say about medical testing "if they look, they will find something". I am not going to get into all the detailed MRI findings. The images cover the most relevant. Most revolve around early signs of navicular and
 arthritis, along with the past injury on his left.

notable left side imaging

I tried to be patient.

It was taking too long for our vet to get back to me with next steps. By the end of the following week, I couldn't stand it anymore and called. Not sure what the big delay was, but I was not amused. Not going to get into that either. Our vet apologized and has since redeemed himself. He is a busy guy and I am sure there was some phone tag involved. He is after all human.

Both vets concur that the current injury causing Koda to be lame is on his 
right side, a "straight sesamoidean ligament injury". Fairly uncommon. It is the dark purple ligament in the borrowed graphic below.

Stem Cell injection/s was mentioned as favorable treatment. I didn't even know they offered it for horses. I started researching and Brad asked our trainer for me. I wanted to know her experience with stem cell therapy. The horses she knew that had the treatment done "it worked like magic".

I also called the MRI vet to get his opinion. He shared some stories and basic treatment plan. He would call our vet again, and share his advice. It felt odd to be the monkey in the middle of two vets. MRI follow up and care goes to the original referring vet. I am so glad I called the equine hospital (and our vet was also) for their opinion. It shortened the whole process.

It turns out, the vet hospital no longer does stem cell treatments (some types are still available, but our vet has had problems with them). They use and recommend a product for treating lameness injuries called
RenoVO. It is an equine amniotic tissue allograft. They have used RenoVO for the past three years. I was told it has similar or better results than stem cell therapy, and the cost is significantly less. 

The vet's connected again. Our vet followed up with me right away. We agreed on a plan of action. To be continued...



Far Side of Fifty said...

Good that you have a plan. Hope the treatment helps:)

Shirley said...

Good boy Koda.
I sure hope the treatment plans helps your boy!
Looking forward to the next post!

TeresaA said...

That’s a lot to take in! I’m curious about the treatment.

Linda said...

Wow. I sure hope it works! Looking forward to part 2.

Val Ewing said...

Not all owners would go to through all of this for a horse with lameness issues. By that I mean that you guys really show so much care and compassion for your animals! <3
I sure hope that some sort of treatment can lessen his pain.