Surgical Treatment of Colic Results in 181 Horses


Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, NIG 2W1.


A retrospective study was performed of 181 horses that underwent an exploratory celiotomy because of acute abdominal disease. Forty-four horses died or were euthanized during surgery. Of the 137 horses that recovered from anesthesia, 72 died of associated diseases or complications, 86 were discharged from the hospital of which 60 survived at least 7 months. Horses with disorders affecting the small intestine had a significantly lower survival rate. Causes of death early in the postoperative period included long bone fracture, shock, ileus, gastric rupture, and peritonitis. After discharge from the hospital, deaths were attributed to colic of unknown cause, malabsorption syndrome, adhesive small bowel obstruction, small and large intestinal volvulus, perforated bowel, and laminitis. Of the 60 horses that were alive at the time of survey, 93.3% had returned to their previous use. A second occurrence of the initial acute abdominal disease was not documented in any horse.