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Clinical features and outcome in horses with severe large intestinal thickening diagnosed with transabdominal ultrasonography: 25 cases (2003–2010)

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  • 1 William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 2 Department of Surgical and Radiological Sciences, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 3 Department of Surgical and Radiological Sciences, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 4 Department of Surgical and Radiological Sciences, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 5 Department of Medicine & Epidemiology, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To describe clinical features and outcome of horses with severe large intestinal thickening diagnosed with transabdominal ultrasonography.

DESIGN: Retrospective case series.

ANIMALS 25 horses.

PROCEDURES Medical records of horses that underwent transabdominal ultrasonography between 2003 and 2010 were reviewed. Horses were included if the wall of the large intestine was ≥ 9 mm thick in any of 6 abdominal zones.

RESULTS Median age was 13 years (range, 3 to 28 years). Horses were initially examined because of colic, diarrhea, inappetence, weight loss, lethargy, fever, or hematuria. Severe large intestinal thickening (range, 9 to 46.6 mm; mean ± SD, 18.8 ± 6.8 mm) was the primary ultrasonographic finding in all horses. Thickened large intestine was more likely to be detected in ventral versus upper (ie, combined paralumbar and intercostal) abdominal zones and in right versus left zones. Eleven horses survived and had resolution of clinical signs, including the l horse treated surgically for colon torsion. An additional horse survived but continued to have intermittent colic. Ten horses were euthanized or died, including 3 horses with neoplasia and 3 with colitis. Three horses were lost to follow-up, including 1 horse with a cecal mass and 1 with hepatosplenic lymphoma. Severity of thickening and number of zones affected were not significantly different between survivors and nonsurvivors.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results suggested that in horses undergoing transabdominal ultrasonography, large intestinal wall thickness ≥ 9 mm may be detected in patients with a variety of conditions. Ultrasonographic examination of all abdominal zones was helpful to determine the extent of thickening and identify additional findings that helped prioritize differential diagnoses.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To describe clinical features and outcome of horses with severe large intestinal thickening diagnosed with transabdominal ultrasonography.

DESIGN: Retrospective case series.

ANIMALS 25 horses.

PROCEDURES Medical records of horses that underwent transabdominal ultrasonography between 2003 and 2010 were reviewed. Horses were included if the wall of the large intestine was ≥ 9 mm thick in any of 6 abdominal zones.

RESULTS Median age was 13 years (range, 3 to 28 years). Horses were initially examined because of colic, diarrhea, inappetence, weight loss, lethargy, fever, or hematuria. Severe large intestinal thickening (range, 9 to 46.6 mm; mean ± SD, 18.8 ± 6.8 mm) was the primary ultrasonographic finding in all horses. Thickened large intestine was more likely to be detected in ventral versus upper (ie, combined paralumbar and intercostal) abdominal zones and in right versus left zones. Eleven horses survived and had resolution of clinical signs, including the l horse treated surgically for colon torsion. An additional horse survived but continued to have intermittent colic. Ten horses were euthanized or died, including 3 horses with neoplasia and 3 with colitis. Three horses were lost to follow-up, including 1 horse with a cecal mass and 1 with hepatosplenic lymphoma. Severity of thickening and number of zones affected were not significantly different between survivors and nonsurvivors.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results suggested that in horses undergoing transabdominal ultrasonography, large intestinal wall thickness ≥ 9 mm may be detected in patients with a variety of conditions. Ultrasonographic examination of all abdominal zones was helpful to determine the extent of thickening and identify additional findings that helped prioritize differential diagnoses.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Biscoe's present address is Animal Imaging, 6112 Riverside Dr, Irving, TX 75039.

Address correspondence to Dr. Whitcomb (mbwhitcomb@ucdavis.edu).