Study on Headshaking Treatment in Horses

Complication rates of EquiPENS™ neuromodulation are low, but there is a wide range of variation in relation to its efficacy.
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Complication rates of EquiPENS™ neuromodulation are low, but there is a wide range of variation in relation to its efficacy.

Complication rates of EquiPENS™ neuromodulation are low, but there is a wide range of variation in relation to its efficacy.

An article titled, "The safety and efficacy of neuromodulation using percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for the management of trigeminal‐mediated headshaking in 168 horses" was published in the Equine Veterinary Journal in August 2019. The authors were Roberts, V.L.H.;, Bailey, M.; and Patel, N.K. of the United Kingdom.

This paper reported the results of an international, multi‐center study investigating the use of EquiPENS™ neuromodulation for idiopathic trigeiminal-mediated headshaking.

Horses were included in analyses if they were diagnosed with trigeminal‐mediated headshaking by exclusion of all other possible causes of the clinical signs. They received EquiPENS™ neuromodulation between August 2013 and November 2017.

Each horse received an initial course of three procedures, with the first two procedures performed 3–7 days apart, and the third procedure 10–14 days after the second. A total of 530 procedures were performed on 168 horses, with 53% (n = 72) of horses going into remission following the initial course. The median duration of remission was 9.5 weeks (range 2 days–156 weeks and ongoing). 

Horses were significantly more likely to go into remission at the end of the first course if they went into remission after the first procedure and second procedure. 

Complications were reported in 8.8% (n = 47) of procedures, with worsening of clinical signs being the most frequently reported. In all but one case, complications were mild and transient, without self‐trauma. No predictors for outcome were determined.

Bottom line: Complication rates of EquiPENS™ neuromodulation are low, but there is a wide range of variation in relation to its efficacy.

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