Byron Reid, VMD
Reid and Associates Equine Clinic had a horse referred with an unusual and grotesque presentation. “Ribo” we will call him to keep him anonymous, was admitted with a history of inability to eat or drink and a swollen tongue. I examined the horse and performed an x-ray of his head which revealed the presence of a metallic foreign body.
Using the x-ray picture as a guide a careful oral exam revealed a metallic sharp object embedded in the base of his tongue. The object was carefully removed but had apparently introduced an infection and his tongue had become gangrenous, meaning the tongue was necrotic (dead) and infected with clostridial bacteria. These bacteria produce toxins that cause gangrene, which will often kill its host.
With the tongue completely dead and denervated and the horse feeling nothing, we decided to perform aggressive treatment, amputating the tongue with light sedation.
I sliced off pieces of the tongue until I hit tissue that bled slightly and decided to stop there. We immediately initiated very high, frequent doses of antibiotics and in addition, twice daily HBOT sessions.