Colic after swimming exercise in racehorses: an investigation of incidence, management, surgical findings and outcome



The incidence of colic following swimming exercise (SC) in a racehorse population examined over 3 years was 0.08%. Following 167,977 swims, 136 cases were reported. Colic resolved spontaneously in 2 horses, medically in 129 or surgically in 5. In a separate study, 21 horses were subject to exploratory laparotomy for SC. Findings included non-strangulating displacements in 7 horses, strangulating displacements in 7, a combination of non-strangulating and strangulating displacements in 1, prominent gaseous intestinal distension in 5 and no abnormalities in 1 horse. A poor response to analgesia prompted surgery in all cases. Rectal palpation and/or abdominal ultrasound was performed in 16 of 21 cases and abnormalities were found in 14 of these. Of the 21 surgical cases, 20 (95.2%) survived to discharge and 18 (90%) raced postoperatively.