10/04/2012 9:48PM

Veterinarians pleased with Paynter’s progress after surgery

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New Bolton Center veterinarians treating Haskell winner Paynter are pleased with the colt’s progress after surgery Wednesday morning to remove a 35-centimeter area of his cecum, a pouch in the horse’s large intestine, that had become abscessed.

The abscess initially was identified by Dr. Laura Javsicas at the Upstate Equine Medical Clinic in Schuylerville, N.Y., and she referred Paynter to surgeon Dr. Louise Southwood at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa.

“The decision to take Paynter to surgery was not made lightly, but the surgery went well,” Southwood said in a New Bolton Center-produced press release that the colt’s owner, Ahmed Zayat, issued late Thursday night. “He recovered like a typical 3-year-old Thoroughbred colt . . . anxious to get up quickly! While there are still complications that can develop, we are happy with his progress at this point.”

Veterinary staff have discontinued Paynter’s intravenous fluids and also removed one of his intravenous catheters, and he is showing what the New Bolton release termed “good appetite.”

“He is constantly trying to get his veterinarians and nurses to give him more food,” Southwood said. “He is getting quite demanding and will only let us work on him if he has something to eat in front of him. We hope to have him back on full feed by tomorrow.”

Southwood added that “everyone who has worked with him has fallen in love with him.”

During the Wednesday morning surgery, Paynter’s veterinary team resected the abscessed areas of the colt’s cecum using stapling equipment, which they said prevented contamination of the colt’s abdomen during surgery.

“The cecum was thickened, and there were at least two areas that appeared to be abscessed,” the New Bolton Center said. “The omentum [a large fold of fatty tissue that hangs down from the stomach] was adhered to the abscesses. The affected area was just to the right of his midline, making it surgically accessible.”

After removing the abscessed area of the cecum, the vets examined it closely and found that “the abscessed areas were, in fact, full thickness areas of necrosis that had been walled off or plugged by his omentum,” Southwood said.

Southwood also noted that had the fatty omentum not adhered to the abscessed areas, the colt would have had leakage from his cecum into his abdomen.

Among the potential post-surgical complications Paynter’s veterinary team will be looking out for is pneumonia, which the colt had earlier this summer while hospitalized in New Jersey. The New Bolton Center release noted that Paynter’s veterinary team includes “internists consulting on care of his respiratory tract to prevent recurrence of his pneumonia, which can be a concern with general anesthesia. New Bolton Center’s farrier consults on his feet and is in communication with the farrier who was initially managing the horse’s laminitis.”

Paynter also has a round-the-clock nursing staff caring for him, according to the release.

Paynter was diagnosed this summer with life-threatening colitis and at one point showed the early signs of laminitis, from which he appears to have recovered.

Paynter first showed signs of illness two days after his July 29 Haskell victory, when he shipped to New Jersey’s Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center with what his connections then believed to be pneumonia. He developed diarrhea, but then improved and returned to light training with Bob Baffert two weeks later. He shipped to the Upstate Equine Medical Clinic in Schuylerville, N.Y., on Aug. 26 with a fever and diarrhea. He later showed early signs of laminitis in three legs, but he recovered from that with aggressive treatment.

Paynter relocated to the New Bolton Center at the University of Pennsylvania on Monday for the surgery, which took place the same day that the colt’s Haskell trophy arrived at the Zayat Stables office in New Jersey, according to Zayat’s son Justin, who also is Zayat’s racing and bloodstock manager.