Surgical management of sand colic impactions in horses: a retrospective study of 41 cases


  • doi: 10.1111/j.1751-0813.2008.00348.x


Objective  A retrospective review of the medical records of 41 horses requiring abdominal surgery for sand colic.

Results  The diagnosis of sand colic was made when sand was found to be the cause of impaction of the gastrointestinal tract during surgical exploration. The most common clinical signs at presentation were abdominal pain, abdominal distension and diarrhoea. A statistically significant association was found between the respiratory rate on arrival and short-term survival. Sand impaction at multiple locations was detected in one-third of the horses. Concurrent pathology was detected in half of the horses. Four horses were euthanased during surgery; of those that recovered from surgery, 35/37 (95%) were discharged from hospital. Short- and long-term complications were similar to those previously reported. Long-term (1 year) survival of the horses discharged was 100%.

Conclusion  The good prognosis for horses undergoing surgery for the treatment of sand impaction supports early surgical intervention in cases where large amounts of sand are suspected.