Neurectomy - has anyone done this?

Discussion in 'Horse Management' started by Hiya, May 9, 2014.

  1. Hiya

    Hiya New Member

    A good vet has recommended a neurectomy for my mare who has been battling a problem in one of her front feet. We've exhausted every option and she'll either need to be on bute for the rest of her life or have the procedure.
    ';' I am very curious to hear, good and bad, from those who had had the procedure done... :confused:

    1. Did you experience regrowth of the nerves/did the horse regain feeling in his foot and experience pain? And How quickly did that happen?

    2. Did the horse return to work? If so, was it the same level as before/after the neurectomy?

    3. Did your horse experience any complications?

    4. Where did you get it done? (PM me if you'd like)

    5. Did you do a second (or third or fourth) neurectomy following regrowth, and did you have success with that surgery?

    6. Roughly, what was the cost for the surgery.
  2. Hi Hiya:) and welcome to the forum:)
    You can't have a horse on bute for the rest of its life. Is it a riding horse? Are you planning to ride it after the surgery or is it the the last resort to provide a quality of life as a broodmare or a paddock ornament?
    A horse with no feeling in the foot could rip it off and not know about it if the procedure is done higher than the base of the sesamoid bones.
    Last edited: May 12, 2014
  3. Jacky Y

    Jacky Y New Member


    I would never ride a horse that has had a neurectomy as they cannot feel their foot. It just takes the pain away and will not solve the problem and if the horse keeps putting pressure on a weakened structure something could break.
    Its is a last resort to give a horse comfort if you wish to use for breeding or retiring comfortably.
  4. Hiya

    Hiya New Member

    Thanks for your feedback. Just wondering what your experiences/qualifications are regarding neurectomies?
    There is a lot of information out there and I want to make sure I'm judging my opinion on facts.
    Firstly, it's just the painful section of the heel that gets blocked - not the whole foot. Losing feeling to the whole foot would mean the horse would stumble/trip/lose feeling - as you've both said.

    My vet has said that many horses he's performed this procedure in have gone on to race/jump/show and live very productive lives. And ideally I would like to still ride/breed my girl.
  5. kp

    kp Well-known Member

    It is illegal for a horse that has had a neurectomy to race. I would imagine this would also be the case for most equestrian disciplines governed by any sort of body. And for very good reason. Admittedly this does not stop some people from having these procedures performed on there horse and using them in a competitive sense.

    These procedures should only be performed to salvage a horse to live a comfortable retirement.

    A friend of mine did in fact own a horse that ended up dying as a result of having had a neurectomy. Unfortunately they lacked knowledge at the time and allowed their trainer to have this procedure performed on their horse. While the procedure successfully made the otherwise very lame horse sound. The lack of feeling also meant that when the horse developed an infection in the hoof, there was no associated lameness. The people in charge of the care of the horse were not aware of the issue until it was too late. And the resulting infection had spread resulting in the horse having to be destroyed.

    As for cost and success rate. The best person to ask is the vet that will be performing the procedure.

    Think very long and hard about this procedure. It is unethical to have this performed and continue to compete this horse. A neurectomy and mask some very serious conditions.
  6. old_mate

    old_mate Well-known Member

    Where is hiya? They could be in the good old USA where you can race/ compete your horse drugged to the eyeballs by Aussie standards.
  7. kp

    kp Well-known Member

    Good point ole_mate. But even the good ol USA are tightening up on the drug rules :)
  8. CTCT

    CTCT New Member

    Hiya I have looked after 2 denerved horses (used to be done for navicular in the good ol' days) and it was a nightmare. Constant vigilance to make sure you have not missed anything in the foot that could cause a issue but which the horse will not feel.. The surgery for that blocked the whole foot.
    Nowadays neurectomy is most often done for PSD (proximal suspensory desmitis).
    Along with the issue of the horse not being able to tell when it has sustained an injury to the denerved part of it's foot, there is the potential of nerve regrowth, which renders the procedure void. Also, you (clearly) are not "curing" the underlying source of pain: that condition or injury will remain, and often worsen, as the animal is using an injured limb. I find that concept deeply disturbing.Pain exists specifically to stop use of a damaged area! There are a number of cases where neurectomy for PSD has been followed by catastrophic breakdown of the suspensory, as it has continued to be used inn an inflamed/injured state.
  9. Hiya

    Hiya New Member

    Thanks again for the feedback. This isn't a decision that's been made lightly. She's had years of other treatments, corrective shoeing, and lately chemical nerve blocks to the heel (which have resulted in a huge improvement to her quality of life).
    My vet has made it clear that this is the last option to give her a pain free life.
    Has anyone had any good experiences? The procedure is quite common in European barns
  10. old_mate

    old_mate Well-known Member

    I'm guessing USA, due to the barn comment.
    Your vet or better yet other vet's opinions would be the best way to go.
    There are vets and vet nurses on here but how do you know ?
  11. Does it matter where the OP lives? The bottom line is people do what they want to the animals they own regardless of what others suggest or advice.
  12. Hiya

    Hiya New Member

    Good guess 'old mate'.
    Obviously I'm going to do what's best for my mare. People will have different opinions on every procedure, I was simply trying to gather more information.
    At the end of the day I trust my vet and will do as he suggests.
  13. old_mate

    old_mate Well-known Member

    OP was talking about horses competing and racing after a neurectomy. Here it is illegal in the USA it seems to be fine?
    It would horrible if the OP had the procedure done thinking they would be able to compete on the horse only to find out they had been given the wrong information.
    So yes CCQHS where the OP lives does have some bearing on the topic.
    Last edited: May 12, 2014
  14. Hiya

    Hiya New Member

    More research

    As I'm yet to hear from anyone who has had this procedure done to one of their animals I've done more research. It seems as though this procedure is quite misunderstood.

    In this day and age we should rationally be able to talk about neurectomy as an alternative to unrelenting distress for chronic heel lameness. When everything else has failed, beginning the cycle all over again isn't going to give the horse any relief.
    What does this animal really deserve? To be killed? Or, a better quality of life.

    If vet and farrier techniques have not proven successful within one year from chronic lameness, serious consideration should be given to humanely alleviating the pain. Farrier procedures are obviously not doing the job. Owners must learn and accept what the farrier and veterinarian can and cannot do for their animals and face the reality that these horses are not going to get well.

    Neurectomies seems to be the only answer at this time other than constant medication. Drugs are not good for the horse as a steady diet, especially in the quantities needed for relief from the pain these animals suffer.

    Arguments always arise about how unsafe it may be to ride a horse which has been neurectomized. No one seems to think it unsafe to ride a horse which is under the influence of pain masking drugs. What's the difference?
    My girl will live a very comfortable life in my barn, where she'll be checked daily. And if she lives pain-free and happy - I'll be happy.
  15. To a horse it doesn't. :}
  16. kp

    kp Well-known Member

    Hiya, you are missing the point a little. The horse does not have the option, you make that decision for them. It is unethical to de-nerve a horse and continue to compete and ride the horse. The deteriation won't stop. It will only continue. I have no problem with this procedure in a horse that is retired. But in a competition or ridden horse, absolutely not. You are still risking this horse for catastrophic breakdown. Don't kid yourself.

    What have you tried to eleviate the horses pain? Or to correct the problem. Has the horse even had rest?
  17. kiraSpark

    kiraSpark Gold Member

    Oh yes they do! That is why Bute is on the swabbable list of just about every horse sport in the world ;)
    Many a rider has been killed by riding/competing on a horse that is drugged up to the eyeballs on Bute - horse cant feel the pain, keeps going - things like legs and tendon give way and horse falls, rider dead/injured. Nah, thats not unsafe.... :p
    Last edited: May 12, 2014
  18. CTCT

    CTCT New Member

    I completely agree Kiraspark..
  19. wtf

    wtf New Member


    People who have not experienced this should not comment! I have had it done and the horse has and still has a competitive life at a high level. Horse is comfortable jumps well is very loved totally safe and has had no ongoing issues. The thing about people in this state is they are quick to comment on things they have not personally dealt with! Would do it again and it is done more than people realise but nobody talks about it because of the crap feedback they get from ignorant people ! Your vet is obviously experienced in this (as most vets are but are too scared to tell anybody) . There are obviously risks as with any surgery but in our case it has been a success and horse is still going strong 7yrs later. We do make sure we check his feet all the time but probably no more than any of our competition horses. Don't let people knock you down you are a caring horse owner more than the knockers of this procedure lucky she s a mare if it was a gelding they d be happy for you to put it down! Don't lose heart
  20. old_mate

    old_mate Well-known Member

    It's pretty clear that acceptable practice from country to country differs.
    Would a horse that had a neurectomy pass a vet inspection or would the vet have to be looking extra hard to find if the procedure had been done?

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