Serious leg wounds such as lacerations, burns, sores and other skin ailments that won’t heal can be a challenge for barn owners, even when following the most stringent care routines. Deep lower leg (distal) injuries can be particularly hard to heal, especially when lacerations are too large or deep to suture closed. Blood flow is crucial to healing and is difficult to increase in lower legs. When blood flow is decreased, it is harder to heal.
In the last several years, researchers have discovered a new tool for these types of wounds—amnion. It’s not a brand or a manufactured product, instead it is the innermost layer of the fetal tissues found in an equine placenta.
“My horse recently cut her leg, and the vet gave me amnion to heal it,” said Hannah Schreck, a Wisconsin horse owner. “It healed extremely fast; I couldn’t believe it.”
After foaling, veterinarians can collect and preserve parts of the amniotic sac that can be preserved and saved for later use. Or, as in Schreck’s case, it can be cut into pieces and applied directly to the wound. The placenta from one foal can be used to produce dozens of dressings, making the homemade amnion dressings far cheaper than commercial dressings. For horses that require long-term care that savings can be significant.
Susie Jacobs of New York agreed that amnion provided a successful treatment for her injured horse. Instead of using strips of amnion as a dressing, Roncone’s veterinarian injected the fluid over an injured area to speed up the regeneration of internal structures.
“It is a great alternative to having to harvest stem cells,” she said.
Using the amniotic membrane puts to use all the natural biological molecules designed to protect the developing foal and includes the basic building blocks of tissues that promote tissue growth and wound healing.
If you aren't in an area where you can obtain amniotic membranes, there are commercial products you and your veterinarian can purchase.