Objectives – To measure serum alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) activity in horses with acute intestinal obstruction and to determine the diagnostic and prognostic utility of this analyte.
Design – Prospective observational study.
Setting – University Veterinary Hospital.
Animals – Thirty healthy horses (control group) and 77 horses with acute intestinal obstruction, including 36 horses with nonstrangulating obstruction (23 with left ventral colon impaction and 13 with left dorsal displacement [G1], 22 with small intestinal strangulation [G2], and 19 with colon torsion [G3]).
Interventions – Serum ADH activity was assayed spectrophotometerically in all horses. Serum lactate concentration and hepatic enzyme (aspartate aminotransferase, gamma-glutamyl transferase, glutamate dehydrogenase) activities were measured using an automatic analyzer.
Measurements and Main Results – The median [interquartile range] serum ADH activity in healthy horses was 10.5 [8.7–11 U/L]. ADH activity was significantly increased (P<0.05) in G1=16.5 [13.8–18 U/L], G2=40 [20–74.9 U/L], and G3=63.2 [40–78 U/L] compared with healthy controls. Aspartate aminotransferase and glutamate dehydrogenase activities were also significantly increased in G3 in comparison with controls. ADH activity was correlated with serum lactate concentration in G1 and G3, respectively (P<0.01, r=0.55 and 0.8). Other liver enzymes did not show any significant correlation with lactate. ADH activity was directly related to the probability of strangulation; odds ratio=1.11. ADH activity >20 U/L had 80.6% specificity and 80.5% sensitivity for discriminating horses with strangulating obstruction. Twelve horses euthanized before surgery were excluded from the outcome analysis. Increasing ADH activity was associated with nonsurvival; odds ratio=1.03. ADH activity <80 U/L had 94.44% specificity and 66.67% sensitivity for survival.
Conclusion – Serum ADH activity may be a useful clinical parameter in detecting intestinal strangulation in horses and may provide some prognostic value in horses with acute intestinal obstruction.