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Surgery is an area of expertise at Rainbow Equine Hospital.

Surgery has been an area of expertise at Rainbow Equine Hospital since its inception 30 years ago and the hospital’s team of surgeons (ECVS and ACVS) have EXTENSIVE experience gained from working in leading practices and Universities across the world. The hospital is equipped to undertake any recognised surgical procedure and can boast one of the busiest surgical caseloads in the country. Last year over 450 procedures were performed under general anaesthesia and over 200 major surgical procedures were performed standing under sedation with multimodal analgesia.

In 2019 Rainbow Equine Hospital underwent a complete surgical facility upgrade to support the full range of sophisticated surgical services offered. We built two brand new operating theatres with direct access to intra-operative computed tomography as well as a new dedicated standing surgery suite with custom designed stocks that enable us to safely operate standing on the smallest miniature to the largest clydesdale. We perform procedures such as arthroscopy (key-hole surgery for joints), laparoscopy (key-hole surgery for the abdomen) and orthopedic fracture repair while utilizing the most advanced diagnostic imaging for accurate surgical planning to optimize outcome and return to training.

Our state of the art surgical facilities include:

  • Dedicated surgical suites built from scratch in 2019-2020
  • Kruuse Multi-tilt table
  • Rubber floored purpose designed standing surgical suite
  • Dedicated and fully qualified surgical nurses
  • Four fully padded anaesthetic induction and recovery boxes
  • Assisted rope recovery system following anaesthesia, under specialist anaesthetist supervision
  • State of the art laparoscopic and arthroscopic equipment new in 2020
  • New dental extraction specialist equipment
  • Diode laser for upper respiratory tract surgery and mass removal
  • Equipment and expertise to perform cervical fusion (wobbler surgery)
  • Invasive blood pressure monitoring and blood gas analysis
  • Mechanical ventilation under general anaesthesia
  • CCTV-monitored recoveries

General admission information

Surgery admission information

Standing surgery

A particular area of expertise at Rainbow and we are able to undertake procedures standing that many practices perform under general anaesthesia:

  • Sinus surgery
  • Minimally invasive Steinman pin repulsion
  • Minimally invasive transbuccal extraction
  • Repair of selected fractures
  • Laparoscopic ovariectomy and cryptorchidectomy
  • Laparoscopy for investigation of chronic colic
  • Thoracoscopy
  • Penile amputation
  • Dorsal spinous process resection
  • Inter-spinous ligament desmotomy
  • Splint bone removal
  • Jugular vein thrombectomy
  • Cystotomy
  • Selected laryngeal surgeries
  • Eye removal and prosthesis
  • Cyclosporin implantation for recurrent uveitis
  • Vitreal injections
  • Corneal surgery


Emergency Surgery

Our 24-hour emergency surgery service performs colic (abdominal) surgery, caesarean sections, fracture repair and joint and tendon sheath surgery following wound trauma. Anaesthesia is undertaken by board specialised and highly experienced veterinarians supported by state-of-the-art monitoring equipment, with the latest padded recovery areas meaning that the majority of horses have a rope-assisted recovery from general anaesthesia under full supervision

REH also offers the full range of post-operative management for both elective and emergency surgery cases with advice on post-operative rehabilitation and ancillary therapies.

Soft Tissue surgery

Soft tissue surgery encompasses a broad spectrum of surgeries including, but not limited to:

  • Abdominal (colic) surgery
  • Upper airway surgery (see Respiratory Surgery)
  • Wounds and skin tumour removal
  • Skin grafting
  • Reproductive surgery (see Laparoscopy)
  • Thoracic surgery (chest wounds)
  • Urogenital surgery (bladder and genital tract)

Whether your horse requires routine elective surgery, emergency surgery, ‘key-hole’ procedures (laparoscopy) or targeted laser surgery, our hospital is staffed and equipped to provide the expertise and technology to ensure the best outcome.


Laparoscopy is a rapidly advancing, minimally invasive surgical technique. We perform laparoscopy for ovariectomy (ovary removal) and cryptorchidectomy (abdominally retained testicles) in standing sedated horses. With the latest instrumentation in vessel sealing devices available in the clinic these laparoscopic surgeries are now safer to perform in a shorter period of time. These surgical advancements alleviate the requirement for general anaesthesia in most cases, result in smaller incision sizes, and can result in a more rapid return to work.


Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive (key-hole) surgical technique used to evaluate and treat a variety of conditions from bone chip fragments, to fracture repair, infection in joints and the evaluation of cartilage quality. REH uses the latest Arthrex arthroscopy units with ultra-high definition endoscope (scope) imaging to allow complete visualisation of the affected joint and the insertion of specialised instruments through additional incisions to the target site(s). This minimally invasive procedure leads to more rapid healing, however return to training and joint function is often determined by the severity of the lesion(s) observed at the time of surgery.


Tenoscopy is similar to arthroscopy with the same specialised equipment utilised to access lesions within the tendon sheath or bursa (bursoscopy). Surgery is set up and performed as for arthroscopy with soft tissue structures surgically assessed. At REH we utilise contrast enhanced CT and MRI to facilitate an accurate surgical approach and therefore treat all injuries and shorten the duration of anaesthesia.

Respiratory Surgery

The upper respiratory tract in the performance is a complex and highly sensitive region in the horse that can have significant performance limiting effects due to a variety of conditions.
At REH, upper respiratory tract surgery is performed with either minimally invasive laser surgery for minor conditions or general anaesthesia and advanced surgery for more complex conditions. Our clinic offers over-ground endoscopy for real-time assessment of the upper airway problem (s) and standing CT for 360-degree assessment of the head and larynx to determine if additional complicating factors are present before surgery is performed.

Orthopaedic Surgery

Orthopaedic surgery ranges from growth defects (angular limb deformities) in the foal, to osteochondrosis (OCD) in the young developing horse, to bone chip fragment removal, fracture repair and arthrodesis (joint fusion) in the adult horse. REH is equipped with the latest fracture repair equipment and a highly specialised diagnostic imaging team that utilises CT guided repair for the more complex fracture repairs. Fracture repair can be performed standing (depending on horse temperament, fracture type and safety) and under general anaesthesia.

Laser Surgery

A laser is an intense beam of light that is focused on an area to cut, seal or vaporise tissue. At REH, laser surgery is used either through an endoscope for respiratory surgery or using a hand-held technique for tumour resection given the laser reduces the risk of peripheral tumour cells remaining after resection due to the heating effect from the laser.

Dental surgery

REH offers a wide range of minimally invasive advanced techniques for treating conditions affecting the teeth, sinus cavities, jaw and head. Detailed 360-degree CT imaging of the affected region is performed increasingly frequently in our hospital and routinely in cases with complex conditions. We use the latest and safest standing sedative combinations with local anaesthesia thus alleviating general anaesthesia in most cases. We offer a full range of services similar to the human dentist from tooth decay prevention, tooth fillings, teeth braces to tooth removal.

Wobbler Surgery

Cervical fusion is performed at REH for horses with ataxia (poor co-ordination) and neck osteoarthritis.

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