Equitom Opens State-of-the-Art Horse Clinic with its Own Stem Cell Laboratory
Thursday, April 24, 2014
The horse clinic behind the horse surgeon Tom Mariën is unique in Europe. It has been built while paying special attention to sustainability and it is equipped with the most advanced technology.
- 2 operating theatres
- 3 post-operative recovery rooms
- 5 intensive care boxes
- 55 hospitalisation boxes
- 1 horse shower
- 1 solarium
The clinic has its own extensive medical imaging unit that includes the following:
- MRI (Hallmarq)
- CT scanner (Toshiba)
- Bone scan digital unit (MIE)
- Ultrasound imaging (Aloka)
The Hallmarq MRI is a standing equine scanner. There are approximately 70 of these devices worldwide and only two in Belgium, one of which is at Equitom. The device scans the lower legs of the standing horse.
The MIE bone scan digital unit has been especially developed for horses. The whole in-stallation has been checked by official bodies such as Controlatom (inspection body in Belgium for physical control, dosimetry and medical radiation physics) and the FANC (Federaal Agentschap voor Nucleaire Controle; Federal Agency for Nuclear Control)
Pioneer in stem cell therapy with its own stem cell bank
In addition to his expertise in surgery, Tom Mariën is also a pioneer in horse stem cell therapy. His stem cell clinic for horses in unique in Europe and is famous internationally. Together with a scientist he developed different types of stem cells that means that the production of, for example, new cartilage cells becomes possible, which ensures that hors-es will recover more quickly.
Equitom has its own stem cell bank with different types of stem cells to produce:
- Cartilage cells (arthrosis)
- Tendon cells (treatment of tendinitis and tendon tears)
- Skin cells (treatment of wounds that heal slowly as with, for example, Kastelino)
Own product development: dietary supplements against arthrosis
Arthrosis is a big issue with horses. Since using prostheses with horses is not an option, Tom Mariën has been researching and developing products against arthrosis for 10 years.
In an initial phase, Tom Mariën developed a dietary supplement with hyaluronic acid, colla-gen, chondroitin, glucosamine and a few spices. Horses do not feel the placebo effect and you can, therefore, perfectly assess whether a product has the desired effect. The Arti-Sport supplement was so effective in horses that very soon the request came to adjust this product and to launch it on the market for human consumption. In 2006, the first tests were performed and GlobalMedics was established. Arti-Forte was launched on the market in 2010. A medical device for people with joint problems. The launch of the dietary sup-plement very quickly received the attention of the Belgian press.
Ecology as a priority
The clinic's heating system is a bioboiler where the horse manure is used as biofuel.
All rainwater is collected in large cisterns and reused. This ensures that valuable wa-ter is not wasted. All waste is carefully sorted and recycled. The site has its own water treatment plant. The garden around the clinic was landscaped as naturally as possible with native plants and shrubs.
Unique character of Equitom
The unique character of Equitom is, therefore, expressed through the following as well as the special infrastructure that offers limitless possibilities on a medical level:
- The unique expertise and passion of Tom Mariën: the many years of experience and expertise of Tom Mariën are praised internationally. He carries out extremely complex operations that others do not dare perform.
- The horse and its well-being have the highest priority: everything is based on the well-being of the horse.
- Personal approach: despite the success and how busy he is, Tom follows up on every horse and tries to speak to people personally.
- Transparency: Equitom strongly believes in continued transparency. Even operations can be attended by the owner of the horse.
- Born on 1/10/1970 in Hoostraten
- He graduated in 1994 from Ghent University with great distinction
- 1 year as an assistant at the Surgery department of the faculty of Veterinary medicine
- 3 years specialising in the USA
- 2001 established the Equitom clinic
Operation technique and material innovation
Tom Mariën is the inventor of different new operation techniques that are now performed worldwide:
- the keyhole surgery closure of the spleen-kidney space, a preventive intervention to pre-vent a specific form of colic, and
- the keyhole surgery reduction of the internal inguinal rings in stallions to prevent an in-guinal hernia are but two examples,
- Tom Mariën was the first vet who removed a kidney in a horse through keyhole surgery (laparoscopy)
Tom Mariën also cooperated with companies to create surgical instruments that ensure that certain operations are possible. He is the author of several publications regarding stem cells and surgery, is the co-author of a number of books about surgery and is a much sought-after guest speaker at international congresses.
The new clinic has only just opened but Tom Mariën has more ambitious plans. He wants to expand with a training and rehabilitation unit with a swimming pool, aquatrainers, tread-mills and a spa in the near future so that horses can enjoy an adjusted training and reha-bilitation programme under professional supervision.
A few figures
- Equitom employed 6 people until recently, but at the new infrastructure additional veteri-narians, veterinary assistants and other staff will be trained and employed.
- The total infrastructure has a total area of just under 1800 m2
- Stables: 957 m2
- Clinic: 583 m2
- Horse walker: 250 m2
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