• horse;
  • miniature horse;
  • colic;
  • faecalith;
  • surgery


Reasons for performing study: It has been suggested that the rate of post operative abdominal adhesions in miniature horses is higher than that for other breeds. However, few reports exist in the veterinary literature describing complications and long-term survival following surgical treatment of colic in these horses.

Objectives: To determine the prevalence of surgical lesions in miniature horses with acute abdominal disease in terms of clinical signs, surgical management, post operative treatment and complications, as well as short- and long-term survival.

Methods: Medical records of 57 American Miniature Horses undergoing surgical treatment for acute abdominal pain at the Michigan State University Large Animal Veterinary Teaching Hospital 1993–2006 were evaluated for clinical information. Owners and trainers were contacted to gain information regarding long-term survival.

Results: The most common surgical lesion was a faecalith (38/57 cases) located primarily within the descending colon and most frequently diagnosed in horses age <6 months (19/38 cases). Short-term survival to hospital discharge for horses recovered from anaesthesia was 98% (55/56) with the most common post operative complications being diarrhoea and inappetance. Intra-abdominal adhesions were identified in 2/8 horses requiring a second celiotomy. Long-term follow-up was available for 45 horses and 87% (39/45) were alive at least 12 months after surgery.

Conclusions: As previously reported, faecalith obstruction is a frequent surgical lesion in the miniature horse and is most common in miniature horses age <6 months. The incidence of adhesion formation may be lower than previously reported.

Clinical relevance: Ischaemic intestinal lesions are uncommon in miniature horses, as is laminitis, which may be why short-and long-term survival is better in this breed compared to others following colic surgery.