Clinical features and outcomes of severe ulcerative keratitis with medical and surgical management in 41 horses (2000-2006)

Mary Utter, E. J. Davidson, K. L. Wotman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The clinical features and outcomes of equine ulcerative keratitis with and without conjunctival graft surgery were assessed using a retrospective study. Medical records of horses hospitalised from July 2000-January 2006 for ulcerative keratitis were included if a diagnosis of melting ulcer, descemetocele or iris prolapse was made, or if surgery was recommended due to severity of corneal disease, and aggressive medical therapy using a subpalpebral catheter was instituted. Treatment and outcome variables were evaluated with and without conjunctival graft surgery. Forty-one horses, 21 that had surgery and 20 for whom surgery was recommended but not performed, were included. Horses were hospitalised for an average of 24 days, with 37/41 melting ulcers, 17/41 descemetoceles and 3/41 iris prolapses, with no statistical difference in frequencies between groups. Bacterial or fungal organisms were cultured from 22/39 cases, with 10 Aspergillus spp. and 8 Pseudomonas spp. Infectious organisms were seen on corneal cytology in 23/30 cases. Surgical cases were hospitalised for an average of 4.9 days prior to surgery. Abdominal discomfort was observed in 8/41 hospitalised horses, with 5/8 operated horses developing caecal impactions. Thirty-five horses retained an intact globe, including 18/20 treated medically and 17/21 that had surgery. Hospitalisation cost was 24% more for cases that had surgery than for medical cases. It was concluded that there was no statistical difference in length or cost of hospitalisation between surgical and nonsurgical groups. Outcomes from both groups were similar, with a high frequency of globe retention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-327
Number of pages7
JournalEquine Veterinary Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Conjunctival graft
  • Horse
  • Surgery
  • Ulcerative keratitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


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