Study Looks at Colic Surgery Outcomes

equine colic surgery, horse colic surgery, what happens after colic surgery

By Mark Andrews

Colic is a common problem in horses, and although many cases will respond quickly to medical treatment, some do not, and surgical intervention is required to correct the problem. This is not something to be undertaken lightly. There are risks associated with general anaesthesia and with the surgical procedure itself. A period of convalescence lasting months will likely be required. A further concern is the risk that the horse will not regain its original athletic ability.

A study in the Netherlands has looked at the outcome of horses after colic surgery.

Johannes van Loon and colleagues at Utrecht University reviewed the clinical records of 283 horses treated surgically after being presented for acute colic at the Department of Equine Sciences. As well as looking at survival and complication rates, they also considered the functional outcome and behavioural problems.

They found that of the horses that underwent colic surgery, 59 percent went home alive. Of those, 96 percent were still alive a year later. More than half of them suffered at least one or two episodes of colic during that time. Encouragingly, almost two-thirds of horses that returned home achieved at least their previous level of performance. Owners reported altered behaviour and gait-related problems in up to 46.2 percent of horses.

The researchers suggest that improving veterinary aftercare, in collaboration with other procedures such as physiotherapy and saddle fitting during rehabilitation, could produce further improvement in athletic performance and welfare after recovery from colic surgery.

For more details, see Colic Surgery in Horses: A Retrospective Study Into Short- And Long-Term Survival Rate, Complications and Rehabilitation Toward Sporting Activity.

Published with the kind permission of Mark Andrews, Equine Science Update.

Main Photo: Shutterstock/Tanja Esser