The chal­lenge of

EQUUS - - Conversati­ons -

chal­leng­ing to re­solve in the long term.”

But cel­luli­tis can have long-term ef­fects. Ex­treme in­flam­ma­tion can stretch and scar tis­sues enough to com­pro­mise the lymph sys­tem’s abil­ity to draw out ex­cess in­ter­sti­tial flu­ids (the fluid that fills the spa­ces be­tween body cells) and re­turn them to the blood­stream. “Dam­age to the lymph ves­sels will in­ter­fere with nor­mal drainage of fluid from the limb,” Ham­mond ex­plains. “With this de­creased ef­fi­ciency of the lymph sys­tem, th­ese sub­cu­ta­neous tis­sues may al­ways hold a lit­tle ex­tra fluid, mak­ing the leg ap­pear slightly swollen even af­ter it has healed. This is most likely to hap­pen in the more se­vere cases or the ones that are not treated early.”

The change in the leg’s ap­pear­ance may be per­ma­nent. “I warn own­ers that even when horses re­spond well, they may end up with a leg that is slightly big­ger than the other one,” says Mudge. “Even if ev­ery­thing goes well and the horse makes it through and re­cov­ers with­out resid­ual lameness, there may be some limb en­large­ment. It is yet to be de­ter­mined whether pro­longed ban­dag­ing or us­ing things like com­pres­sion cold ther­apy make a dif­fer­ence in the fi­nal out­come, though th­ese strate­gies make a lot of sense in con­tin­ued treat­ment for th­ese horses. At this point in time, how­ever, we don’t have strong ev­i­dence to say whether those will ul­ti­mately im­prove the cos­metic out­come.”


Un­for­tu­nately, even a sin­gle episode of cel­luli­tis can leave a horse sus­cep­ti­ble to the chronic form of the con­di­tion---re­peated episodes of se­vere, painful limb swelling. “A horse who has re­cov­ered from cel­luli­tis is more likely to have a re­cur­rence in that same limb,” says Ham­mond.

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