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Attempted Medical Management of Suspected Ascending Colon Displacement in Horses


Corresponding Author

Kate F. McGovern, BVetMed, CertEM (IntMed), Large Animal Clinic, University of Illinois, 1008 W Hazelwood Drive, Urbana, IL 61802




To determine the success of medical management of suspected displacement of the ascending (large) colon in horses.

Study Design

Retrospective case series.


Horses (n = 127) with suspected large colon displacement.


Medical records (January 1998–September 2008) of horses admitted for colic were reviewed. Suspected large colon displacement was diagnosed from clinical examination and in some cases, subsequent surgical examination. Medically managed horses were exercised and administered intravenous fluids and analgesia. Horses with suspected left dorsal displacement (LDD) of the large colon were also administered phenylephrine.


Medical management had a high success rate for treatment of suspected right dorsal displacement (RDD) (64%) and LDD (76%) of the large colon; 4 horses died (1) or were euthanatized (3) and 36 horses had surgery. Of 127 horses treated medically or surgically for a colon displacement, 94% survived to hospital discharge.


Horses with suspected RDD or LDD of the large colon may respond to medical management including exercise.