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To obtain information from specialists in equine surgery as to prevalence of, predisposing factors for, and methods to prevent postoperative adhesion formation in horses undergoing abdominal surgery.




Surveys were mailed to 196 diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons involved in equine practice.


60 (31%) surveys were returned. Most respondents (55/60) routinely informed clients of the risk of postoperative adhesion formation in horses with small intestinal lesions. When asked after which procedures they routinely used measures to prevent adhesions, 56 of 60 (93%) indicated that they did after small intestinal resection and anastomosis and 56 of 60 (93%) indicated that they did after any abdominal surgery in foals. The 4 methods most frequently listed when respondents were asked which methods were effective at preventing adhesion formation were meticulous surgical technique, administration of antibiotics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, intraoperative peritoneal lavage, and methods that prevent abdominal contamination. Most respondents (50/60) thought that at least some horses with colic secondary to adhesion formation could be managed medically. Fifty-four (90%) respondents indicated that they were successful less than half of the time when treating horses with adhesions severe enough to require additional surgery.


In general, respondents thought that less than 15% of horses undergoing abdominal surgery would develop adhesions, but that horses with small intestinal disease and foals were most prone to develop adhesions. Meticulous surgical technique was thought to be the most important factor in preventing adhesions, and many prevention regimens reported to be effective in the literature were not commonly used in practice. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1997;211:1573–1576)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association