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Predisposing factors for small colon impaction in horses and outcome of medical and surgical treatment: 44 cases (1999–2004)

Lisa M. FredericoDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27606.

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Samuel L. JonesDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27606.

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Anthony T. BlikslagerDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27606.

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Abstract

Objective—To identify factors associated with development of small colon impaction in horses and with selection of medical versus surgical treatment and to determine the prognosis for affected horses following medical or surgical management.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—44 horses with primary impaction of the small colon.

Procedures—Medical records were reviewed for signalment, history, clinical findings, treatment (medical vs surgical), hospitalization time, and outcome. For comparison purposes, the same information was collected for 83 horses with primary impaction of the large colon.

Results—Diarrhea was the only factor found to be associated with development of small colon impaction. Horses with small colon impaction were 10.8 times as likely to have diarrhea at the time of initial examination as were horses with large colon impaction. Abdominal distension was the only factor associated with use of surgical versus medical treatment. Horses with small colon impaction that were treated surgically were 5.2 times as likely to have had abdominal distension at the time of admission as were horses with small colon impaction that were treated medically. Overall, 21 of 23 (91%) horses treated medically and 20 of 21 (95%) horses treated surgically survived to discharge.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that diarrhea may be a risk factor for development of small colon impaction and that horses with small colon impaction that have abdominal distension at the time of initial examination are more likely to require surgical than medical treatment.

Abstract

Objective—To identify factors associated with development of small colon impaction in horses and with selection of medical versus surgical treatment and to determine the prognosis for affected horses following medical or surgical management.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—44 horses with primary impaction of the small colon.

Procedures—Medical records were reviewed for signalment, history, clinical findings, treatment (medical vs surgical), hospitalization time, and outcome. For comparison purposes, the same information was collected for 83 horses with primary impaction of the large colon.

Results—Diarrhea was the only factor found to be associated with development of small colon impaction. Horses with small colon impaction were 10.8 times as likely to have diarrhea at the time of initial examination as were horses with large colon impaction. Abdominal distension was the only factor associated with use of surgical versus medical treatment. Horses with small colon impaction that were treated surgically were 5.2 times as likely to have had abdominal distension at the time of admission as were horses with small colon impaction that were treated medically. Overall, 21 of 23 (91%) horses treated medically and 20 of 21 (95%) horses treated surgically survived to discharge.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that diarrhea may be a risk factor for development of small colon impaction and that horses with small colon impaction that have abdominal distension at the time of initial examination are more likely to require surgical than medical treatment.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Blikslager.