Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Recto-Vaginal Tear or Fistula

Synonyms: Third Degree Perineal Laceration

Mares occasionally sustain serious foaling injuries that tear the tissue between the rectum and the vagina. A foal’s limb may push through the roof of the mare’s vagina resulting in a single hole (fistula) or result in a common opening of vagina and rectum (a third degree perineal tear).

These wounds are shocking to horse owners when they first occur.

These wounds are repaired surgically, however the repair is often intentionally delayed 8 weeks. This allows inflammation and swelling to subside.

QUESTIONS TO ASK MY VET

  • When should surgical repair be performed?
  • What effect will this injury have on future reproduction?
  • Is the injury likely to recur at the next foaling?
  • PREVENTION

    If possible, prepare for and attend foaling. These sorts of injuries occur more frequently when foaling is unattended.
    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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