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  • Writer's pictureDr Michael Porter DVM

Sarcoid in a horse.

A middle-aged gelding presented to PHD Veterinary services for the removal of a large tumor from the base of the right ear (Figures 1 and 2). Two years prior, a smaller tumor was surgically removed from the same ear. The histological report was consistent with a sarcoid tumor. At the time of the original surgery, several sarcoids were removed from different areas including the pectoral region and groin area. The recurring sarcoids were treated with intra-lesional chemotherapy, cryotherapy, topical medications and systemic herbal remedies. At presentation, a large, lobulated tumor was "hanging" from the base of the right ear. There was mild hemorrhage and evidence of moderate necrosis of the tumor. The gelding was resistant to manipulation of the tumor however gentle palpation of the ear noted that the tumor was NOT attached to the cartilage portion of the ear but only the skin and immediate subcutaneous tissues.

Figure 1: Equine sarcoid post surgical removal

Figure 2: Equine sarcoid post surgical removal

The gelding was rendered unconscious via injectable anesthetics and the tumor was removed through a large incision (Figure 3 and 4). Moderate hemorrhage was encountered confirming that the tumor was highly vascular. The incision was partially closed with sutures and the horse was recovered from anesthesia. Examination of the tumor after removal noted it consisted of 3 individual masses and weighed more than one pound (Figure 5).

Figure 3: Equine sarcoid post surgical removal

Figure 4: Equine sarcoid post surgical removal

Figure 5: Equine sarcoid

This case represents an extreme example of recurrent sarcoids in a horse. Per the owner, the previous management of the sarcoids were initially effective however in time the tumors returned. The removal or de-bulking of the ear-based tumor will most likely not be sufficient in keeping the sarcoid tumor from removal. Aggressive therapy involving intra-lesional chemotherapy agents and cryotherapy will be employed to keep these tumors from continuing the develop!!

Figure 6: Equine sarcoid: Post surgical removal

 Fast forward 6 weeks and the surgical wound is in the process of healing nicely (Figure 6), however there are several small sarcoids along the tip of the ear and also within the surgical site that are inflamed and beginning to grow. Follow-up treatment included the injection of cisplatin directly into the small sarcoids. Unlike the initial procedure which was done under anesthesia, the cisplatin injection was performed with sedation and a local "block" of the ear. Two weeks after the cisplatin injection, the small sarcoids along the tip of the ear are shrinking however the sarcoids within the surgical site remain inflamed  (Figure 7).

Figure 7: Equine sarcoid: Post surgical removal

 Hence, the small sarcoids were treated with cryotherapy and the picture in Figure 8 was approximately 2 weeks post cryotherapy. The initial surgical site is a scar and all of the small sarcoids are regressing nicely. This horse will be monitored very carefully to make sure that any new sarcoid growth is treated aggressively!! This case represents an excellent example of the need for early, aggressive and multi-drug treatment of sarcoids in horses.

Figure 8: Equine sarcoid: Post surgical removal

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