• D-dimer;
  • fibrin(ogen) degradation products;
  • equine colic;
  • disseminated intravascular coagulation

Background: Fibrin(ogen) degradation products (FDPs) and D-dimer are sensitive indicators of excessive fibrinolysis due to disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) in dogs. To the authors' knowledge, latex-agglutination–based plasma FDP and D-dimer assays have not been validated for use in horses. Objectives: To determine: 1) sensitivity and specificity of latex-agglutination serum and plasma FDP and D-dimer assays for diagnosis of DIC; and 2) their prognostic value in horses with severe colic. Methods: At hospital admission and 24 hours later, blood was collected from 30 healthy horses and 20 horses with severe colic. Horses fulfilling predefined laboratory criteria of DIC were enrolled, and their data were subcategorized by survival for analysis. Platelet counts were determined and coagulation panel testing was performed. Serum and plasma FDP concentrations were measured using separate latex agglutination kits. Plasma D-dimer concentration was measured using 3 latex agglutination kits and a card immunofiltration test. Test sensitivity and specificity results were determined for healthy horses and those with colic. Median test values were compared between colic survivors and nonsurvivors to evaluate the prognostic usefulness of all tests. Results: Performance characteristics varied among assays and kit suppliers. The FDP assays had low sensitivity (<40%), whereas the most accurate D-dimer kit had 50% sensitivity and 97% specificity. High D-dimer concentration was the third most common hemostatic abnormality in horses with colic. Median antithrombin (AT) activity was significantly lower and activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT) was significantly longer in nonsurvivors than survivors. Conclusions: Commercial latex-agglutination D-dimer assays might prove useful as adjunctive tests for the diagnosis of DIC in horses with severe colic; however FDP assays are invalid for this purpose. Low AT activity and prolonged aPTT at admission are associated with a poor prognosis in this patient population.