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To assess clinical utility of abdominal fluid analysis in predicting outcome, lesion type, and whether medical or surgical treatment is indicated for horses with colic.


Retrospective study.


218 horses > 1 year old.


Horses were classified on the basis of age, site of lesion, lesion type (nonstrangulating vs strangulating), type of treatment (medical vs surgical), and outcome (survival vs nonsurvival). Sensitivity and specificity of using age and results of abdominal fluid analysis, individually and in combination, to predict lesion type, type of treatment, and outcome were determined.


Most single variables evaluated were found to have low sensitivity, specificity, and predictive value for determining lesion type, whether medical or surgical treatment was indicated, and outcome. When evaluated in series, abdominal fluid color and specific gravity had a high positive predictive value for lesion type, and patient age and abdominal fluid color had a high positive predictive value for outcome.

Clinical Implications—

Results of abdominal fluid analysis cannot be used alone to accurately predict lesion type, whether medical or surgical treatment is needed, or outcome for horses with colic. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1998:213:1012-1015)

Free access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To determine clinical features of horses with bacterial meningitis or brain abscesses secondary to infectious disease processes involving the head.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—7 adult horses.

Procedure—Medical records of Tufts University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center (Lexington, Ky) were reviewed to identify adult (> 12 months old) horses in which a postmortem diagnosis of bacterial meningitis or brain abscess had been made. Horses were included in the study if an intracranial infection was confirmed, the horse had a primary infectious disease process involving the head, and there were no signs of systemic infection.

Results—23 adult horses with bacterial meningitis or a brain abscess were examined during the study period, but only 7 met the criteria for inclusion in the study. Primary sites of infection included the paranasal sinuses, nasal cavity, periocular tissues, and submandibular lymph nodes. Three horses died suddenly prior to hospitalization, and 1 horse was hospitalized but died 7 days after the onset of neurologic abnormalities. The remaining 3 horses were euthanatized because of a rapid deterioration in clinical status.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Although rare, fatal intracranial complications can develop in horses with infectious diseases involving the head. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;224:739–742)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To determine the prevalence of hypomagnesemia and hypocalcemia in horses with surgical colic.

Animals—35 horses with surgically managed colic.

Procedure—Serum concentrations of total magnesium (tMg 2+ ) and calcium (tCa 2+ ), as well as ionized magnesium (iMg 2+ ) and calcium (iCa 2+ ) were analyzed before surgery and 1, 3, 5, and 7 days following surgery. A lead-II ECG and pertinent clinical data were also obtained at each time.

Results—Preoperative serum tMg 2+ and iMg 2+ concentrations were below the reference range in 6 (17%) and 19 (54%) horses, respectively. Serum concentrations of tCa2+ and iCa2+ were less than the reference range in 20 (57%) and 30 (86%) horses before surgery. Horses with strangulating lesions of the gastrointestinal tract had significantly lower preoperative serum concentrations of iMg2+ and iCa2+, as well as a higher heart rate than horses with nonstrangulating lesions. Horses that developed postoperative ileus had significantly lower serum concentrations of iMg2+ after surgery. Serum concentrations of magnesium and calcium (total and ionized) correlated significantly with the PR, QRS, QT, and corrected QT (QTc) intervals. Horses that were euthanatized at the time of surgery (n = 7) had significantly lower preoperative serum concentrations of iMg2+, compared with horses that survived. Neither serum magnesium nor calcium concentrations were predictors of hospitalization time or survival.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Hypomagnesemia and hypocalcemia were common during the perioperative period, particularly in horses with strangulating intestinal lesions and ileus. Serum concentrations of tMg2+ and tCa2+ were less sensitive than iMg2+ and iCa2+ in detecting horses with hypomagnesemia and hypocalcemia. ( Am J Vet Res 2001;62:7-12)

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To determine prevalence, clinical findings, and long-term survival rate after surgery associated with incarceration of the small intestine through the gastrosplenic ligament (ISIGL) in horses.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—14 horses with ISIGL.

Procedures—Medical records of horses with ISIGL examined between January 1994 and December 2006 were reviewed. Signalment, initial physical examination findings, results of abdominal fluid analysis, and clinical laboratory values were recorded, along with surgical findings, including segment of incarcerated intestine and surgical procedures performed. Long-term survival data were obtained through client interviews.

Results—Clinical findings included small intestinal distention identified via rectal palpation (10/14 horses) or transabdominal ultrasonography (8/11), nasogastric reflux (4/14), and abnormal abdominal fluid (9/9). All horses required intestinal resection and anastomosis. Postoperative complications included adynamic ileus (5/14 horses), incisional infection (4/14), diarrhea (3/14), and laminitis (1/14). No breed or age predilection was detected, although geldings were at increased risk for ISIGL. Long-term survival rate was 79% (11/14 horses).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—ISIGL was an uncommon cause of colicin this hospital population. With appropriate surgical intervention and postoperative management, the long-term prognosis for surgically treated horses was fair to good.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association