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Evaluation of racing performance after colic surgery in Thoroughbreds: 85 cases (1996–2010)

Joy E. TomlinsonChino Valley Equine Hospital, 2945 English Pl, Chino Hills, CA 91709.

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Raymond C. BostonDepartment of Clinical Studies, New Bolton Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348.

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Thomas BrauerChino Valley Equine Hospital, 2945 English Pl, Chino Hills, CA 91709.

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Abstract

Objective—To determine racing performance after surgery for colic in Thoroughbreds.

Design—Retrospective cohort study.

Animals—85 racing Thoroughbreds that survived to discharge following colic surgery and 170 race-matched reference horses.

Procedures—Earnings, starts, and earnings per start were compared between horses that underwent surgery and reference horses, the proportions of horses that returned to racing were analyzed, and career longevity was determined.

Results—Among 85 racing Thoroughbreds that underwent colic surgery, 31 (36%) had primarily small intestinal lesions, of which 11 underwent resection; 54 (64%) had large intestinal lesions, of which 2 underwent resection. Fifty-nine of 85 (69%) horses that underwent colic surgery returned to racing after a 6-month recovery period versus 125 of 170 (73%) reference horses (OR, 0.81). In the 36-month postoperative period, reference horses earned a mean of $7,866 more, had a mean of 0.26 more starts, and had mean earnings per start of $29 more than horses that underwent surgery. Horses that underwent surgery did not have different career lengths than reference horses.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Horses that underwent colic surgery did not have a significant reduction in measures of performance or career length, compared with a reference cohort.

Abstract

Objective—To determine racing performance after surgery for colic in Thoroughbreds.

Design—Retrospective cohort study.

Animals—85 racing Thoroughbreds that survived to discharge following colic surgery and 170 race-matched reference horses.

Procedures—Earnings, starts, and earnings per start were compared between horses that underwent surgery and reference horses, the proportions of horses that returned to racing were analyzed, and career longevity was determined.

Results—Among 85 racing Thoroughbreds that underwent colic surgery, 31 (36%) had primarily small intestinal lesions, of which 11 underwent resection; 54 (64%) had large intestinal lesions, of which 2 underwent resection. Fifty-nine of 85 (69%) horses that underwent colic surgery returned to racing after a 6-month recovery period versus 125 of 170 (73%) reference horses (OR, 0.81). In the 36-month postoperative period, reference horses earned a mean of $7,866 more, had a mean of 0.26 more starts, and had mean earnings per start of $29 more than horses that underwent surgery. Horses that underwent surgery did not have different career lengths than reference horses.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Horses that underwent colic surgery did not have a significant reduction in measures of performance or career length, compared with a reference cohort.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Tomlinson's present address is Department of Clinical Studies, New Bolton Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348.

Presented as a poster at the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum, New Orleans, June 2012, and in abstract form at the 58th Annual American Association of Equine Practitioners Annual Convention, Anaheim, Calif, December 2012.

The authors thank Dr. Rose Nolen-Walston for technical assistance.

Address correspondence to Dr. Tomlinson (joytom@vet.upenn.edu).