Understanding Caslick Surgery in Horses

Caslick surgery is a veterinary procedure commonly performed on mares to address specific reproductive issues. Named after its originator, Dr. M.J. Caslick, this surgical intervention involves suturing the upper portion of a mare’s vulvar lips, a technique designed to prevent the entry of air and contaminants into the vagina. Caslick surgery has proven to be an invaluable tool in equine reproductive management, contributing to successful breeding outcomes and the overall well-being of broodmares.

The Need for Caslick Surgery

Preventing Infections: Caslick surgery is often recommended for mares with poor vulvar conformation, where the vulvar lips do not form a tight seal. This anatomical anomaly can lead to the aspiration of air, fecal material, and other contaminants into the vagina, increasing the risk of infections. These infections, if left unaddressed, can compromise the mare’s reproductive health and hinder her ability to conceive or carry a foal to term.

Addressing Urine Pooling: Some mares may experience a condition known as urine pooling, where urine accumulates in the vagina due to inadequate conformation of the vulva. Caslick surgery helps in preventing urine pooling, which can be detrimental to fertility. Excessive urine in the reproductive tract can create an environment unsuitable for conception and increase the risk of ascending uterine infections.

The Caslick Procedure

Caslick surgery is typically performed on non-pregnant mares and involves suturing the upper part of the vulvar lips. The procedure is conducted under sedation and local anesthesia. The surgeon carefully sutures the vulvar lips together, leaving a small opening at the caudal end for normal urination.

Considerations and Aftercare

Timing: Caslick surgery is commonly performed during the non-breeding season or postpartum, providing the mare with ample time to heal before the next breeding cycle.

Reversibility: The sutures used in Caslick surgery are intended to dissolve over time, and the procedure is reversible. The mare can be “un-Caslicked” when she is ready to breed.

Monitoring: Close monitoring of mares post-Caslick surgery is crucial. Regular veterinary check-ups ensure the healing process is progressing as expected. Once the mare is ready for breeding, the Caslick sutures are carefully removed to allow for normal reproductive function.

Caslick surgery plays a pivotal role in optimizing the reproductive health of broodmares. By addressing vulvar conformation issues and preventing infections or urine pooling, this surgical procedure contributes to successful breeding outcomes and reduces the risk of reproductive complications. Horse owners and breeders should work closely with equine veterinarians to assess the need for Caslick surgery and ensure the well-being of their valuable broodmares. As with any medical procedure, informed decision-making and vigilant aftercare are essential for the overall health and fertility of the mare.

By Staff writer