Lone Star Offers Access to High-Tech Equine Surgical Suite

A high-tech surgical suite, developed originally for human medicine, is now available to horses at Lone Star Park, the host for this year's running of the Breeders'Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. The facility, designed especially for orthopedic surgery, is based at a backstretch veterinary clinic owned by Lone Star and operated by Drs. Jake Hersman and Mark Crabell. A demonstration that involved an actual racehorse undergoing a series of arthroscopic procedures on its knees and front ankles was conducted Thursday morning for the media at the track to cover Saturday's Breeders' Cup races.

Stryker Communications of California developed and installed the suite, which has ceiling-mounted booms to suspend the equipment needed to perform and document operations, including high-definition flat panel monitors and a digital recording system that produces video and still images taken inside equine joints. In the past, such equipment was kept on carts or in cabinets that were wheeled in and out of the operating room. The new set-up allows two surgeons to operate at the same time on different joints in a horse.

"This is a significant upgrade from what we used to do," Dr. Hersman said. "This suite improves surgical efficiency and decreases operating time. It prevents equipment from getting unhooked and other mistakes."

The Stryker EquineSuite also has an overhead rail transport system that suspends a horse and moves it from the induction room (where it is put to sleep), to the operating room, and then to the recovery room. In addition, there is a conference room where horsemen can sit and watch a live feed of the surgery--from an inside-the-joint perspective--on a television monitor.

Jenna Hughes, a marketing associate with Stryker, said the company had installed more than 2,000 of its suites in human hospitals and that they can be designed to accommodate various surgical specialties in addition to orthopedics. The Lone Star suite is the first one that has been installed in an equine veterinary clinic. The work was completed on Oct. 10, and the first joint surgery was performed in the suite on Oct. 19.

"Everything is already hardwired into a system so you can walk into a room and with a touch of a button have all of your equipment set up exactly how you want it set up," Hughes said.