"Miracle Foal" Survives Traumatic Brain Injury
July 26, 2012
COLLEGE STATION, TX -After a month of surgeries and careful
treatment, Reno, a three month old Quarter Horse/Welsh Pony colt,
is going home. On June 19th, Reno was brought to the
Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical
Sciences (CVM) Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) after he
sustained blunt force trauma to the head, with bone chips embedded
in his brain. Today, Reno is finally going home thanks to the
teamwork and dedication of multiple specialists at the CVM.
The owners, Jody Baton and her daughter Whittany of Kilgore,
Texas, brought Reno to the CVM for treatment as quickly as possible
after the referring veterinarian, Dr. Robert Thoni identified a
skull fracture with an x-ray image. Baton is no stranger to the
Large Animal Hospital, 11 of her horses have previously been
brought here for specialty treatment or surgery.
"It's like a family reunion when I come in. These veterinarians
are angels," Baton said.
When Reno arrived at the CVM, he was very depressed and had
difficulty walking. Dr. Keith Chaffin, professor of equine internal
medicine, was assigned to lead Reno's case. After rapid
stabilization therapy, Reno was immediately sent for MRI and CT
"The magnitude of brain swelling was much worse than we
predicted, and the CT scan showed more than 20 bone chips embedded
in the brain," Chaffin said. "We couldn't have known the extent of
Reno's injuries if it weren't for the new Diagnostic Imaging and
Cancer Treatment Center. What we can now do with brain and head
injuries is state-of-the-art and we can better diagnose and develop
therapeutic treatments, and Reno is a great example of that."
Reno's only chance for survival was surgery. Baton did not
hesitate in making the decision to proceed.
"He is an extraordinary colt, and we didn't think twice about
agreeing to surgery because we knew he would be in good hands,"
Baton said. "Besides, how do you put a price tag on a family
Dr. Joseph M. Mankin, clinical assistant professor of neurology
and neurosurgery in the CVM Small Animal Hospital, performed the
"What sets the CVM apart is our access to other specialties, the
team effort for Reno has been phenomenal," Chaffin said. "This type
of surgery was somewhat unchartered territory for the Large Animal
Hospital, and Dr. Mankin did an excellent job."
Mankin removed about 25 bone fragments, a piece of skin with
hair, and most alarming for the team, a pus pocket. The pus pocket
indicated infection was already present, and an increased
possibility for more extensive infection post-operatively. But an
infection in the brain wasn't the team's only concern after
surgery, Reno reacted violently as he awoke from anesthesia. The
team was forced to anesthetize him again. This scenario repeated
itself twice more and on the third attempt Reno was able to wake
calmly. However, Reno tore the top side of his urinary bladder
during the process, and needed surgery to repair the tear. Dr.
Carolyn Arnold, assistant professor of equine soft tissue surgery,
led Reno's second surgery that week.
Reno's bladder surgery and recovery went well, and there were no
violent episodes. But post-surgery, colic and a fungal infection of
the tongue slowed his recovery. Gastric ulceration was the cause of
colic and he responded to therapy with a proton pump inhibitor. The
tongue infection was caused by candidiasis, and was successfully
treated with antifungal agents.
"Reno just had crisis, after crisis, after crisis," Chaffin
said. "He was a challenging case, but a very special little
A month of careful monitoring and the teamwork of the
specialists at the CVM Large and Small Animal Hospitals allowed
Reno to make a full recovery. Baton, who stayed by Reno's side
almost the entire month, was joined by her two daughters and mother
to take Reno home, as part of their family.
"We are just so very thankful for everything A&M has done
for Reno and our family," Baton said. "We call him our miracle
Angela G. Clendenin
Director, Communications & Public Relations
Ofc- (979) 862-2675
Cell - (979) 739-5718
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