Picaro Is Picking Up: Gunshot Wound Horse Survives Second Surgery at Tufts University Cummings Hospital

by Fran Jurga | 22 January 2010 | The Jurga Report at Equisearch.com

Tufts created an animation of Picaro’s CT scan so you can see where his jaw was shattered by a bullet.

“Picaro,” the horse brought last week to the Tufts University’s Cummings School’s Hospital for Large Animals with gunshot wounds, is “bright and alert” today following a second surgery Wednesday in which veterinarians stabilized his jaw and removed fragments of his hyoid. The hyoid is a cluster of bones forming a horseshoe-shaped apparatus that supports the tongue and vocal chords in a horse.

Picaro on his back, viewed through the CT scanner.

Using the Cummings School’s new 16-slice computerized tomography scanner, equine and diagnostic imaging personnel were able to characterize with a high degree of accuracy the path of the bullets that wounded Picaro last Thursday.

The horse was then transferred into surgery, whereupon Drs. Carl A. Kirker-Head and Jose M. Gacia-Lopez, assisted by resident Dr. Diego Quinteros, used Picaro’s intact left jawbone as an anchor for stabilizing the badly damaged right jawbone. They also removed bits of his shattered hyoid apparatus.

Tufts Senior Technician Lyn Schad takes Picaro for a walk down the hospital aisle.

Today (Friday, January 22), Picaro is alert and beginning to eat his liquefied diet. He is receiving a great deal of attention and around-the-clock care at the hospital from his team of caregivers, including his fourth-year veterinary student Jared Ravich, faculty veterinarians, interns, residents, and technicians. He took exercise, walking along the hospital’s long central corridor, several times Friday, guided by a student and a resident.

“He’s in good spirits, and we hope he continues on this path of improvement,” said Carl A. Kirker-Head, MA, Vet MB, the associate professor of surgery in charge of the horse’s care at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. “He’s increasingly comfortable, thanks to two successful surgeries thus far, as well as pain medication that he’s tolerating well.”

Despite the improving indicators of health, Picaro’s progress remains day-to-day, and he faces a number of hurdles along road of recovery, Dr. Kirker-Head said today. The gray Paso Fino stallion was brought to the Hospital for Large Animals with bullet wounds last Thursday by Carol Gaucher of Spencer (Massachusetts) Animal Control and walked in under his own power.

Cummings School officials are working with the horse’s custodian, Kelley Small of West Boylston, Mass., to make medical decisions and find a loving home for Picaro should he recover as anticipated.

Cummings School officials have received more than $1,000 in donations in Picaro’s honor thus far. Bills for the horse’s care have surpassed the $10,000 mark. Members of the community interested in making donations to the Cumming School’s Hospital for Large Animals in honor of Picaro may send checks made out to “Trustees of Tufts College” and mail them to: Office of Development & Alumni Relations, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, 200 Westboro Road, North Grafton, MA 01536. For links to online giving, please visit www.tufts.edu/vet/giving.

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