Getting Under Their Skin: Transdermal CO2 May Help Treat Laminitis

by | 09.23.2019 | 1:14pm

Laminitis is a debilitating and life-threatening condition that can be brought on by a range of things, including endocrine disorders, a retained placenta in mares, overindulging in feed, complications from illness and being worked for an extended period of time on hard ground. The subject of much research, new studies have shown that carbon dioxide may decrease inflammation-inducing compounds that accompany laminitis.

Dr. Richard Rivers of Johns Hopkins University is a microvascular physiologist; he compares the pathophysiology of laminitis to Raynaud's disease in humans. Rivers suggests that the initial acute phase for laminitis is between 4 and 60 hours; this window of time offers an opportunity to use vasoactive medications to reverse the decreased blood flow.

Rivers explains that the low oxygen in the blood from the vasospasm increases the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), which then interferes with proteins that protect the cells. Carbon dioxide has decreased HIF concentrations and inflammation-causing compounds.

After studying the research, Rivers recommends applying carbon dioxide through the skin to increase blood flow to the tissues, which will increase the amount of oxygen in the tissues. This has proven effective in human studies; applying CO2 through the skin allows it to penetrate to deeper tissues. CO2 is soluble in soft tissue and moves toward lower concentrations.

The Airjector-Vet device is designed to provide carbon dioxide therapy transdermally to laminitic horses for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. It works best on wet skin. Read more at the Airjector-Vet here.

Read more at EquiManagement.

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