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  • Author or Editor: K. Leann Kuebelbeck x
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Objective—To determine how survival rates in geriatric horses (≥ 20 years old) undergoing abdominal exploratory surgery for colic compare with survival rates for younger (nongeriatric) horses.

Design—Retrospective case-control study.

Animals—56 geriatric horses and 487 nongeriatric horses undergoing exploratory celiotomy for colic.

Procedures—Medical records of all horses undergoing emergency abdominal exploratory surgery for primary gastrointestinal tract lesions over a 10-year period were reviewed. Data retrieved included signalment, primary gastrointestinal tract lesion, whether the horse was discharged from the hospital alive, and reason (if applicable) for euthanasia or death either during surgery or prior to hospital discharge. Survival rates were calculated and compared between the geriatric and nongeriatric populations for strangulating and nonstrangulating small intestinal, cecal, large colon, and small colon lesions. Information on long-term outcome was obtained via telephone contact with owners or referring veterinarians.

Results—Survival rate at the time of hospital discharge was 50% (28/56) for geriatric horses and 72% (352/487) for nongeriatric horses. Of horses that survived surgery and anesthetic recovery, 82% (28/34) of geriatric horses and 89% (352/396) of nongeriatric horses were discharged from the hospital alive. Seventy percent (14/20) of geriatric horses and 84% (108/129) of nongeriatric horses with long-term follow-up information survived > 1 year after surgery.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Survival rate at the time of hospital discharge was significantly lower for geriatric horses, compared with that for nongeriatric horses. The primary reason for this difference in survival rates between the 2 groups appeared to be related to the significantly higher number of geriatric horses euthanized during surgery.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association