The hotel lobby the morning following a conference has the same forlorn feeling of a house the morning after a party or a ballroom after the bride and groom have left in the limo. But, instead of a smattering of beer bottles or champagne glasses, the space is littered with the memory of stories, conversations, and debate. Even my Twitter feed has a “the party is over” feeling this morning as practitioners commiserated with the colleague stuck in an airport and others thanked each other for the lovely time.

But while most people only manage to take home a hangover or a tulle bundle of Jordan almonds from a wedding or party, those of us who attended the 2012 Annual Convention of the AAEP carry home something more lasting and requiring less ibuprofen.

Continuing education for medical professionals often errs on the side of the esoteric, with a lot of high-level research that appeals to specialists and academics but can’t really be used by the practitioner in the trenches. AAEP, on the other hand, does a great job of providing not only the latest research but also ways practitioners can use the information. Just about every presentation included comments on clinical relevance and key take-home messages. So, in that spirit, here are my top take-homes from the 2012 AAEP Convention.

  1. A calm head and returning to the basic principles of medicine and physiology will take you a long way in an emergency.
  2. An oral glucose tolerance test using corn syrup can be an easy and accurate means of screening horses for insulin resistance in the field.
  3. Drug compounding from bulk ingredients is not only legally shaky but also can result in inconsistent quality, dosing, and safety.
  4. Abuses in performance horses need to be addressed by all industry stakeholders: regulators, veterinarians, farriers, breed associations, judges, trainers, and owners. Everyone needs to step up and speak for the one stakeholder who can’t speak for himself--the horse.
  5. Anti-ulcer medications in hospitalized foals should be used on a case-by-case rather than a cookbook basis, since they may be associated with hospital-induced diarrhea.
  6. Formerly geographically restricted diseases expand their range as climates shift and horses and disease vectors travel. Don’t assume that a disease is impossible in your area.
  7. “Tying-up” is a clinical description that can refer to a number of equine muscle diseases. While the causes of all of these conditions are not established, the lactic acidosis model appears to be definitively disproved.
  8. Upper respiratory conditions can produce a chronic cough that mimics recurrent airway obstruction (RAO). Work-up for a chronic cough should include: a comprehensive exam, bronchoalveolar lavage, and endoscopy. A thorough work-up and early diagnosis/treatment may actually save money, time, and damage to the horse in the long run.
  9. Every delay of 10 minutes after 30 minutes of labor decreases the odds of the survival of the foal.
  10. Always, always, always perform a complete physical examination, complete oral examination, and X rays before even contemplating extracting a tooth.

I have document files full of notes and a book of the complete conference proceedings, but perhaps the most valuable thing I will take home is the same thing that returns with me from every AAEP convention--a renewed commitment to do whatever I can to support the health and welfare of the horse.

I’ll be back for one more post next week to fill in some of the gaps and to give a summary of my perceptions of the conference once I’ve had time to digest the information. Thanks for following along this week!