Reasons for performing study: Large intestinal diseases in horses are characterised by inflammation, which could arise from the disease process with some contribution from intestinal manipulation. The effects of the latter are unknown but important to surgeons and could contribute to post operative complications.
Objectives: To characterise type and degree of intestinal inflammation induced by various mechanical stimuli in the equine ascending colon.
Methods: Laparotomy was performed in 12 horses, the left dorsal colon exteriorised and 3 segments randomly exposed to different mechanical manipulations: 1) enterotomy, 2) enterotomy and mucosal irritation and 3) serosal irritation. Intestinal biopsies were harvested before, immediately after and 30 min after each manipulation for histological evaluation. Eosinophils were detected with Luna's stain and neutrophils identified by immunohistochemical staining for calprotectin. Additionally, left dorsal colon samples from 14 horses from a jejunal ischaemia-reperfusion study were collected immediately after laparotomy (7 horses) and at the end of the experiment without previous manipulation of the colon (7 horses). Horses were subjected to euthanasia at the end of both studies.
Results: Redistribution of mucosal neutrophils and eosinophils towards the luminal surface and increased neutrophilic infiltration of the submucosa were demonstrated after serosal and mucosal irritation. All manipulations resulted in serosal infiltration with neutrophils. Laparotomy and small intestinal manipulation increased mucosal eosinophilic infiltration.
Conclusions and potential relevance: Mechanical intestinal manipulation caused a rapid local inflammatory reaction in the mucosa, submucosa and serosa including a mucosal eosinophilic response. These changes could exacerbate existing inflammation in horses with large colon disease. Colic surgery can lead to intestinal inflammation in nonmanipulated intestine and this could contribute to a higher morbidity rate in horses after prolonged colic surgery. An intestinal biopsy should be collected at the beginning of surgery to avoid false interpretations.