Large animal masses


The most common hernias are umbilical and inguinal.

Umbilical hernias

Often these are reducible and a hernia ring is palpable. Quarterhorse fillies are predisposed as are certain lines of Holsteins. Umbilical abscesses do develop and are generally associated with a hernia, particularly in calves.  Umbilical abscesses without an associated hernia can be treated as regular abscesses. If a hernia develops due to trauma, it is essential to wait until a hernia ring (composed of fibrous tissue) develops prior to attempting repair; this usually takes about 60 days.

Exception: if the intestines are “stuck” in the hernia and the hernia is not reducible, this is an emergency. 

Inguinal hernias

Inguinal hernias present quite differently depending upon the age of the patient. Adult horses with inguinal hernia are emergencies and often require surgery to remove the intestines from the hernia; The intestines can become devitalized quite quickly.

Foals and calves with inguinal hernias are typically not an emergency. The intestines slide around and can be shoved back into the abdomen (but quickly slide back out). These usually resolve on their own over time. However, it is possible for the intestines to become stuck in the hernia. These cases do require emergency surgery.

Adult bulls with hernias are typically not an emergency. These are associated with large fat pads in the inguinal ring that protect the intestines.


More info – Hernias section


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Large Animal Surgery - Supplemental Notes by Erin Malone, DVM, PhD; Elaine Norton, DVM PhD; Erica Dobbs, DVM; and Ashley Ezzo, DVM is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.