Equine Colic Types

Inflammation related colics

Erosions and ulcerations can lead to significant pain. NSAIDs are a common cause of GI ulceration in horses.

Duodenal ulcers

Duodenal ulceration is identified in foals and in adults.

Signalment
  • foals, yearlings
Clinical signs
  • fever
  • mild-moderate colic
  • mild obtundation
  • diarrhea
Diagnosis
  • duodenoscopy
  • contrast radiographs
Complications
  • Secondary gastric ulcers and reflux esophagitis
  • duodenal perforation
  • duodenal stricture and SI obstruction
  • ascending cholangitis, hepatitis, pancreatitis
  • death
Treatment
  • Supportive care – aggressive medical management
  • parenteral nutrition
  • may need surgical bypass
Risk factors
  • illness
Prognosis
  • Guarded
Prevention
  • quick attention to sick foals

 

Right dorsal colitis

Right dorsal colitis can cause severe pain and is often associated with performance horses on NSAIDs.

Signalment
  • performance horses
Clinical signs
  • acute severe or recurrent pain
  • depression
  • weight loss
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • hypoproteinemia, hypoalbuminemia, hypocalcemia, anemia
  • ventral edema, limb edema
Diagnosis
  • ultrasound
  • fecal occult blood
  • surgery
Complications
  • other forms of NSAID toxicity
Treatment
  • discontinue NSAIDs
  • supportive care – fluids, colloids
  • consider misoprostol, sucralfate
  • surgery – colon resection
  • dietary adjustments
Risk factors
  • NSAID use
Prognosis
  • Guarded
Prevention
  • avoid NSAID overuse

 

Inflammatory bowel disease

Inflammatory bowel disease can lead to weight loss and multiple conditions related to poor nutrition.

Signalment
  • ?
Clinical signs
  • Progressive weight loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Dermatitis
  • Peripheral edema
  • Anemia, hypoproteinemia
Diagnosis
  • intestinal biopsy
  • rectal mucosal biopsy
  • glucose or d-xylose absorption tests
  • ultrasound – intestinal thickening
  • gluten-dependent antibodies?
Complications
  • often fatal
Treatment
  • aggressive treatment often unsuccessful
  • highly digestible well balanced feeds
  • dexamethasone
  • avoid dietary antigens
  • metronidazole
  • hydroxyurea
  • surgical¬† removal if focal
Risk factors
  • ?
Prognosis
  • Good
Prevention
  • none

Proliferative enteropathy

Proliferative enteropathy generally affects juveniles and is a growing concern.

Signalment
  • 2-13 mo, especially 4-7mo; more often Aug-Jan
Clinical signs
  • Severe hypoproteinemia
  • Chronic weight loss
  • Intermittent colic
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Stunted growth
  • Ventral edema
  • Occasional fever
Diagnosis
  • Ultrasound – thickened SI
  • Profound hypoproteinemia (TPP <3 g/dl; albumin <1.5g/dl)
  • Fecal PCR or rectal swab PCR (may not always be shedding)
  • Serology – exposure
  • Detection of bacteria in crypt epithelial cells
  • Differentials : renal disease, colitis, parasites, Salmonella, Clostridial infection
Complications
  • Secondary to hypoproteinemia
Treatment
  • Supportive care – plasma, prednisone
  • Antibiotics- oxytetracycline iv, doxycycline or minocycline po; treat 2-4 weeks
Risk factors
  • FPT
  • overcrowding
  • weaning
  • transportation
  • other illness
Prognosis
  • Good
Prevention
  • Avoid overcrowding
  • Avoid contamination of feed and water (fecal-oral transmission)
  • Separate sick animals
  • Ensure good colostral intake
  • Minimize stress to youngstock
  • Monitor farm for outbreaks
  • Off label use of swine vaccine?

 

License

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.