Effect of Omentectomy on Adhesion Formation in Horses


DVM, 511 E. Bloomingdale Ave, Brandon, FL 33511


Objective—To determine if omentectomy would decrease the frequency of postoperative intraabdominal adhesions.

Study Design—Retrospective study.

Animals or Sample Population—44 horses that had either two ventral median celiotomies or a ventral median celiotomy and a necropsy more than 4 days later; 19 of these horses had their omentum removed at the initial surgery.

Methods—Data retrieved from the records included location and type of intraabdominal adhesions; location of the surgical lesion; relationship of adhesions to the surgical lesion; surgical procedures; duration of initial surgery; time interval between procedures; age, gender, and breed of the horse; and clinical outcome. Fisher's exact test was used to evaluate the association between categorical explanatory and outcome variables. The effect of potential risk factors on the incidence rate of adhesion formation was estimated using a proportional hazards regression model.

Results—Of 25 horses in the nonomentectomy group, 15 (60%) had postoperative adhesions that resulted in the need for a second surgical intervention, whereas of 19 horses that had omentectomy initially, only 4 (21%) had postoperative adhesions that required a second procedure. Rate of adhesion formation was higher in horses that did not have omentectomy initially (incidence ratio rate [IRR], 0.46; 90% confidence interval [CI], 0.18 to 1.19). At initial surgery, 24 horses had a small intestinal lesion, and 20 horses had a large intestinal lesion. Fifteen horses (63%) with small intestinal lesions subsequently developed adhesions compared with four horses (20%) with an initial large intestinal lesion (P= .006). At the second procedure, small intestine lesions were identified in 32 horses and large intestine lesions in 12 horses (1 horse had both small and large intestine lesions), and 1 horse had a gastric lesion. Adhesions were identified as the cause of colic signs in 19 (61%) horses with small intestinal lesions and in none of the horses with large intestine lesions. The frequency of adhesion development leading to colic associated with only the small intestine at the second surgery or necropsy was significantly greater (P= .001) than the frequency only in the large intestine.

Conclusions—Omentectomy reduced the rate of postoperative adhesion formation. Adhesions are more likely to occur after small intestinal surgery and if they do occur likely involve the small intestine.

Clinical Relevance—Omentectomy is a safe procedure and should be considered prophylactically for reduction of adhesion formation after abdominal surgery in horses.