Equine Colic Types

Motility disorders


Hormonal (stress, pregnancy), drugs (most sedatives) and electrolyte changes can alter motility, leading to colic.

Postoperative ileus and exertional ileus

  • recent abdominal surgery or intense exercise
Clinical signs
  • colic
  • tachycardia
  • shock
  • reflux
  • reflux
  • distended SI
  • lack of manure
  • nasogastric intubation
  • motility stimulants
  • iv fluids
  • time
  • lower body temp if overheated
Risk factors
  • surgery
  • endurance racing
  • performance in hot, humid weather
  • Guarded for POI; treatment can be prolonged and expensive
  • good for exertional ileus
  • lidocaine iv for POI
  • proper conditioning, avoid overheating for exertional ileus


Proximal duodenitis jejunitis (proximal enteritis, PDJ)

Inflammation can also lead to ileus. Proximal enteritis is a syndrome characterized by inflammation and edema in the proximal SI, leading to excessive fluid and electrolyte secretion. Both Salmonella and Clostridium have been implicated in proximal enteritis.

  • >1.5 years
Clinical signs
  • Moderate to severe colic
  • Large amount of reflux, often orange brown with fetid odor
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Injected mucous membranes
  • Shock
  • Tachypnea
  • Depression (less painful)
  • Rectal palpation – moderate SI distension
  • Differentials -other causes of ileus, strangulating lipoma
    • Compared to a physical obstruction, PDJ is more likely to be associated with fever, leukocytosis, less pain, more depression
    • Abdominocentesis tends to have a mild increase in WBCs and protein; it should not be serosanguinous
  • Laminitis
  • Adhesions
  • Gastric rupture
  • Myocarditis
  • Hypovolemic shock
  • Death
  • Refer for medical management (supportive care, motility stimulants) or surgical decompression
Risk factors
  • Weakly associated with high grain diets
  • Guarded; treatment can be prolonged and expensive
  • None known





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Large Animal Surgery - Supplemental Notes Copyright © by Erin Malone, DVM, PhD is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.