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Barbaro Injury Update - May, June, July 2006

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Barbaro after his surgery

Barbaro after his surgery

© Sabina Louise Pierce/University of Pennsylvania
Updated January 28, 2007

Check here for the latest update.

Barbaro was in sugery over six hours on Sunday to repair his broken leg suffered in the running of the Preakness the day before. While the surgery was successful and the leg is stabilized and should be able to heal, there are still many things that could go wrong so he isn't out of the woods yet.

His leg was broken in 3 places (cannon bone, sesamoids, and long pastern) plus his fetlock was dislocated. It required a long metal plate and 27 screws to put all the pieces back together again and the bones should fuse over time. He has a cast that starts at his hock (just below the hip) and covers the entire leg and hoof. This one will be on for a week to 10 days before they remove it for re-evaluation. He has good blood flow to the foot, which was a major concern, which means it should be able to heal normally.

Check here for more photos of Barbaro and the x-rays of his injury before and after the surgery from the New Bolton Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

In a sad aside, on Sunday at Belmont many hard-boiled New York fans booed Prado and blamed him for their losing wagers on Barbaro. I find this disgusting as it was his quick action in pulling the horse up that likely saved his life. This should be more important than any wagers!

Update 5/23/06 - At a news conference on Tuesday morning, Dr. Dean Richardson and his owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson made comments and gave the latest update on his condition. Dr. Richardson said, "Barbaro is doing very well. He's actually better today than he was even yesterday. He's pretty agile, he's done a couple of things that may assess his level of comfort. He was actually scratching his left ear with his left hind leg. When I was working with him this morning he kind of waved at me with his left hind leg which is his good leg. He had absolutely normal vital signs. Temperature, pulse, respiration, appetite." Barbaro is wearing a special shoe on his good back foot to cushion it and make his legs the same length to help reduce the risk of laminitis from uneven weight distribution on his feet.

Barbaro is getting tons of cards and emails as well as apples and carrots. He gets some of the goodies, but all the horses in the hospital are getting to share the bounty. There is now a way to send a message direct to the hospital here.

His owners expressed their thanks to all who have helped and said Barbaro will have a home with them regardless of whether his leg is heals stong enough to be a stallion or not. The important thing is he have a pain free and happy life. Mr. Jackson said, "I would like to think Dr. Sweeney and Dr. Richardson. I would also like to thank Edgar Prado for pulling the horse up. Wonderful job the outriders did at the Preakness, wonderful job the vets did there. I'd also like to thank the state police and Baltimore police for getting him up here."

May 30 Update

There was a press conference this morning with jockey Edgar Prado, owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson, and surgeon Dr. Dean Richardson to update us on Barbaro's condition. Dr. Richardson said Barbaro is very interested in his surroundings, watching everything that is going on and doesn't show any signs of being depressed but instead seems very bright and happy. He said Barbaro continues to do very well and his chances of surviving improve with every day. Some complications that can occur don't show up until later in the healing, such as laminitis, but more short term complications like serious infection become less likely as the days pass. Dr. Richardson was not willing to give a definite prognosis beyond 50-50, as it just takes time to find out what is going to happen. Barbaro won't ever have normal mobility, but it is possible for his fractures to heal and be as stong or stronger than before the injury. If he heals properly, he will be able to walk, trot, canter, etc., but it won't be smooth since he will have some joints that are fused in that ankle.

Edgar Prado was visiting Barbaro for the first time since the accident. He said he was glad to see Barbaro again and how happy and strong he looked. He said Barbaro is very smart and helped to save himself from more serious injury. He said this week has been really hard and he would have liked to take some time off, but he would have probably worried too much so instead kept riding to keep busy help keep his mind off things. Prado said when Barbaro broke through the gate, he pushed it open with his head and front leg. He was fine after that and broke good, but it all went wrong about four strides out of the gate.

June 13 Update:

Today Barbaro had the cast replaced on his leg for the first time since his surgery on May 21.

Dr. Dean Richardson said, "His leg looks excellent. The incision has healed well and judging by the radiographs, the graft is opacifying ("taking"). Callus is forming nicely, and all of the implants (plate and screws) look unchanged."

The cast was replaced under general anesthesia, and Barbaro had a very smooth pool recovery. Everyone there continues to be pleased with his recovery and progress and he get spoiled regularly with carrots and sugar cube treats.

July 9 Update:

July 8 Dr. Dean Richardson replaced the plate and many of the screws that had been inserted into Barbaro's injured hind leg on May 21. "Barbaro had developed some discomfort and a consistently elevated temperature so we believed it was in his best interest to remove the hardware and thoroughly clean the site of the infection," said Dr. Richardson. "We also applied a longer cast on that leg for additional support."

While the main fracture is healing well, the pastern joint that doctors are attempting to fuse continues to be the area of concern. This joint was stabilized with new implants and a fresh bone graft.

"The recovery process from anesthesia took longer with this surgery, but Barbaro is now back in his stall in the Intensive Care Unit," said Dr. Richardson. "He is receiving pain medication, antibiotics and other supportive care."

July and August 2006 Updates

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