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Effects of compressive abdominal bandaging and transrectal palpation on intra-abdominal pressures in horses


  • Presented in abstract form at the 16th International Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Symposium, Nashville, TN, September 2011.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to

Dr. Amelia Munsterman, JT Vaughan Large Animal Teaching Hospital, Auburn, AL 36849, USA




To determine the effect of an abdominal support wrap and transrectal abdominal palpation on intra-abdominal pressures (IAPs) measured directly from the peritoneal space.


Prospective, experimental study.


A university-based equine research facility.


Ten healthy adult horses, 5 males and 5 females.


IAPs were measured through an intraperitoneal cannula zeroed at a height midway between the height of the tuber ishii and point of the shoulder. Triplicate measurements were obtained at rest, during transrectal palpation, after placement of an abdominal support wrap, and during transrectal palpation with the support wrap still in place. Simultaneous mean arterial pressures were obtained using a tail cuff and abdominal perfusion pressures were calculated using the measured IAP minus the measured mean arterial pressures.

Measurements and Main Results

Baseline direct pressure measurements were subatmospheric (−4.5 ± 3.0 cm H2O). IAPs were not significantly affected by transrectal palpation, but were significantly increased after placement of an abdominal support wrap (−1.19 ± 3.01 cm H2O; P = 0.01). Abdominal perfusion pressures were not significantly affected by either transrectal palpation or application of the support wrap.


IAPs were significantly increased after application of an abdominal support wrap commonly used after exploratory laparotomy. Further investigations are warranted to determine the clinical implications of abdominal bandaging on IAP and its implications on postoperative complications including intra-abdominal hypertension. However, transrectal abdominal palpation likely does not contribute to abdominal hypertension in normal horses.