Supportive care for the critically ill neonatal foal

Dunkel, B (2008) Supportive care for the critically ill neonatal foal. Pferdeheilkunde, 24 (4). pp. 540-548.

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Equine neonates may suffer from a variety of diseases; perinatal asphyxia syndrome (PAS) and neonatal sepsis are particular severe, often life-threatening diseases that have the potential to affect homoeostasis of many organ systems. Regardless of the underlying disease process, some general principles apply to the treatment of any critically ill neonatal foal. Maintenance of a normal fluid, electrolyte and acid-base balance as well as cardiovascular and pulmonary function to ensure adequate perfusion and oxygen delivery to peripheral organs is one of the most important aspects of supportive care. Hypovolcemia and dehydration are addressed by administration of boluses of a balanced electrolyte solution while maintenance fluid requirements are best met using a hypotonic solution with a low sodium and a higher potassium content, If fluid therapy alone does not improve peripheral perfusion, use of inotropes and vasopressors may be indicated. Hypoxaemia can be combated by intranasal oxygen insufflation, pharmacological stimulation of the respiratory centre or mechanical ventilation. Blood transfusions may be necessary to improve the oxygen carrying capacity in certain patients. Enteral or parenteral nutrition also constitute an essential part of the treatment plan. With adequate supportive care even critically ill equine neonates can survive and develop into normal fools.

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