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Modified surgery tackles neuromuscular condition in cattle
The approach is less invasive, calls for less veterinary expertise and reduces the costs and risks of anaethesia.
The technique offers fast treatment to spastic paresis.

A new method of surgery has been developed which could provide fast and simple treatment for a neuromuscular condition affecting the hind limbs of cattle.

The modified technique has been developed at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies to allow for on-farm treatment of spastic paresis, with an easier and less invasive approach.

Spastic paresis is a neuromuscular disease affecting cattle, causing spastic contractions of muscles in their hind limbs. If left untreated, the muscle spasms can cause the animal to suffer stress and pain.

The condition is often treated with surgery, which relieves the animal’s pain, and improves their movement, growth and ability to gain weight.

The surgical approach devised by researchers presents a modified approach to a tenectomy, in which muscles spasms are remedied by amending two of three tendons of the Achilles tendon. The new approach suggests that the relevant tendons are more easily accessed by making an incision closer to the hock, the joint midway down the leg.

The researchers say this makes the surgery simpler in comparison to conventional tenectomy and neurectomy procedures.

By relocating the surgery site, the method overcomes difficulties such as finding and distinguishing the three necessary tendons. The technique also reduces the need for the specialised electro-stimulation equipment that is used for differentiating nerves in alternative treatment options such as tibial neurectomies.

The approach is less invasive, which allows for reduced surgery time when on-site in a farm environment, calls for less veterinary expertise and reduces the costs and risks of anaethesia. This is particularly important when treating older and heavier animals.

David McFarland, of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Science Farm Animal Services, said: “This is a good alternative to traditional tenectomy surgery, and can improve the welfare and performance of cattle with spastic paresis. Tenectomy of the medial and lateral tendon of the gastrocnemius muscle is a useful alternative to a tibial neurectomy, especially in older, larger animals.

“Our method gives vets an option where time constraints in the field may be a concern, with a less invasive procedure with simple-to-identify surgical landmarks.”

Image © Shutterstock

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VMG president joins House of Lords

News Story 1
 Miles Russell, president of the Veterinary Management Group (VMG), has been elected to the House of Lords as a crossbench hereditary peer.

He will join Lord Trees as a representative of the veterinary sector in the second chamber of the UK parliament.

Lord Russell said: "Those of us working in the animal health and veterinary sectors are only too aware of the importance of the work we do and the challenges we face.

"I will use my platform in the House of Lords to increase understanding of our sectors and to promote positive change." 

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News Shorts
Sixth case of bluetongue confirmed

A sixth case of bluetongue virus serotype 3 has been confirmed in the UK.

The case was detected in an animal on a premises linked to one of the farms within the Temporary Control Zone (TCZ) currently in place near Canterbury, Kent.

In response, the Animal and Plant Health Agency has extended the TCZ. Investigations into the spread of the disease are ongoing.

The cases in Kent come at a time when a new strain of the virus has spread rapidly across farms in the Netherlands. Both the Government and the British Veterinary Association have urged livestock keepers to remain vigilant.

Bluetongue is a notifiable disease and suspected cases must be reported immediately on 03000 200 301 in England or 03003 038 268 in Wales. In Scotland, possible cases should be reported to the local field services office.