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Intra-abdominal hypertension in two adult horses


  • The authors report no financial conflicts of interest.

  • Dr. Brosnahan's current address: Department of Microbiolgy and Immunology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to
Dr. Todd C. Holbrook, Boren VMTH, Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA.


Objective – To describe the clinical and pathological findings in 2 adult horses with documented increases in intra-abdominal pressure (IAP), and to describe the direct puncture technique used to measure this pressure.

Series Summary – Two adult horses developed increases in IAP secondary to large-volume abdominal effusion. A 9-year-old Quarter Horse cross gelding was presented for evaluation of urinary and neurologic signs. Abdominal ultrasonographic examination showed a hepatic abscess along with abdominal effusion. A 4-year-old Quarter Horse gelding was presented for evaluation of castration complications. A castration site infection extended into surrounding tissues, resulting in peritonitis, abdominal effusion, and severe cellulitis of the limbs. IAP measured in both horses was increased relative to reported equine reference values. Changes in hemodynamic parameters in both horses, notably increased central venous pressure, were consistent with those seen in other species in which intra-abdominal hypertension (IAH) and its sequellae have been documented.

New or Unique Information Provided – Extensive research and clinical literature guides management of humans with IAH and abdominal compartment syndrome. Knowledge of these conditions in companion animal and large domestic species is less well developed. Recent research has established reference values for standing, sedated and recumbent, anesthetized horses. Detailed reports of equine clinical cases of IAH have not been reported in the literature. This report provides information on the clinical, hemodynamic, and pathologic characteristics of 2 horses with measured increases in IAP, and describes the direct puncture technique used to perform these measurements.