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Equine Colic Types
Torsions and entrapments (hernias)
Both the small and large intestines can twist. The large colon tends to twist more often, likely related to changes in gas levels and motility. Intestines can also slide through small holes (hernias, mesenteric rents). Often they can’t slide back out (particularly in small holes) and become distended and swollen, leading to even more severe entrapments and devitalization.
Large colon volvulus
Deep chested breeds
Broodmares, especially late gestation and postpartum
Rapidly increasing severe pain
Abdominal distension (bloat)
Occasionally bradycardia (vagal tone?)
Rectal palpation – severe gas distension
Ultrasound -thickened colon wall >9mm and edema around vessels
Differential- uterine artery rupture
Diarrhea (mucosa sloughs)
To stabilize -give hypertonic saline; trocarize if needed to decompress; wean foal
Changes in space (parturition)
Fair to grave, depending upon amount of damage
Can recur- up to 15% in broodmares; 80% if had two episodes
Don’t let the mare carry another pregnancy (can do embryo flush)
Colon removal or colopexy
These horses do require surgery and intense medical therapy. The colon may be viable enough to just be untwisted and left in the horse. Much of the colon can be removed if needed. This isn’t always possible due to the location of the twist.
Small intestinal volvulus
especially 2-4mo; < 3 years
Moderate to severe colic
Depression in foals
Distended SI on rectal exam or ultrasound
Marked abdominal distension in foals
Fixation by umbilical remnants
Fair; foal are more prone to adhesions
Up to 50% of the small intestine can removed if needed due to damage. These horses are more prone to postoperative ileus and adhesions.
foals, stallions; especially Standardbreds, Tennessee Walking Horses and Saddlebreds
foals – no pain; scrotal swelling with palpable loops SI
stallions – colic; enlarged scrotal neck, testicle cold and firm