Reason for performing study: Owners and veterinarians are often concerned about mortality of geriatric horses following colic surgery.
Objective: To compare treatment, diagnosis and short-term survival for geriatric compared to mature nongeriatric horses with colic.
Methods: Medical records of horses admitted with a presenting complaint of colic between 2000 and 2006 were reviewed. Geriatric horses were aged ≥16 years (n = 300) and subcategorised as age ≥20 years (n = 134). Mature nongeriatric horses were age 4–15 years (n = 300). Information obtained included medical (included horses subjected to euthanasia without surgery) vs. surgical management, lesion location, type and classification, surgical procedures performed and short-term survival. Data were analysed using a Chi-squared test or an analysis of variance. Level of significance was P<0.05.
Results: The overall short-term survival of geriatric horses was lower than that for mature horses (59 vs. 76%, respectively). The survival of medically managed geriatric horses was lower than that for mature horses (58 vs. 80%, respectively). The survival of surgically managed geriatric horses was not different to that for mature horses (59 vs. 70%, respectively) except for geriatric horses age ≥20 years (53%). There was no difference in survival between geriatric and mature horses with small (86 and 83%, respectively) or large (78 vs. 70%, respectively) intestinal strangulating lesions or those undergoing jejunojejunostomy (75 vs. 70%, respectively). Geriatric horses with a large colon simple obstruction had a lower survival compared to mature horses (80 vs. 97%, respectively).
Conclusions and potential relevance: The survival of geriatric horses with a strangulating lesion or requiring jejunojejunostomy was not different to that for mature horses. Geriatric horses presenting with colic were more likely than mature horses to be subjected to euthanasia without surgery (i.e. lower survival with medical treatment). Geriatric horses undergoing surgery for a large colon simple obstruction had a lower survival than mature horses.