EQUUS - - Eq Medical -

A Cana­dian re­searcher is work­ing to de­velop a sur­gi­cal tech­nique that could, one day, pro­vide a long-last­ing fix for pi­tu­itary pars in­ter­me­dia dys­func­tion (PPID) in horses.

PPID, also his­tor­i­cally known as Cush­ing’s dis­ease, oc­curs when a part of the pi­tu­itary gland called the pars in­ter­me­dia be­comes en­larged and se­cretes ex­ces­sive lev­els of adreno­cor­ti­cotrophic hor­mone. The body re­acts to this ex­cess by ex­hibit­ing a va­ri­ety of clin­i­cal signs, in­clud­ing a long, per­sis­tent hair coat, in­creased sweat­ing and mus­cle wast­ing. Al­though con­sid­ered a dis­ease of older horses, PPID can de­velop in those as young as 15.

A med­i­ca­tion, per­golide, is ef­fec­tive at con­trol­ling PPID, but must be given daily for the du­ra­tion of the horse’s life. “The cost of this daily pill adds up, and the time, ef­fort and stress of med­i­cat­ing this horse, when ob­jec­tively viewed, is also not in­sub­stan­tial,” says James Car­malt, VetMB, PhD, of the Uni­ver­sity of Saskatchew­an, Canada.

Look­ing for an al­ter­na­tive, Car­malt has been ex­per­i­ment­ing with sur­gi­cal tech­niques that re­move or dis­able the dis­eased tis­sue in the pi­tu­itary gland. Al­though this is a novel con­cept in equine medicine, sim­i­lar surg­eries have long been used to con­trol Cush­ing’s dis­ease in peo­ple and dogs.

So far, says Car­malt, the tech­nique show­ing the great­est prom­ise for PPID horses in­volves thread­ing a catheter through the blood ves­sels of the face to reach the pi­tu­itary gland. “The pi­tu­itary gland sits, like an is­land, in this blood-filled si­nus which can be thought of as a lake,” says Car­malt. “If we pass a nee­dle up an emis­sary

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