Results of surgical treatment of colic in miniature breed horses: 11 cases.

Kris Hughes, BA Dowling, S Matthews, AJ Dart

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20 Citations (Scopus)


To report on the outcome of surgical treatment of acute abdominal crises in miniature breed horses.

Retrospective case series of miniature horses presented to the University Veterinary Centre, Camden with an acute abdominal crisis.

Hospital records of all miniature horses that underwent ventral midline laparotomy for acute abdominal crisis between 1997 and 2001 were reviewed. The signalment, history, clinical signs, results of ancillary diagnostic procedures, location and type of intestinal lesion, treatment and outcome were retrieved from each case record. Long-term survival was determined by telephone interview of owners.

Eleven miniature horses including five females and six males underwent ventral midline laparotomies for acute abdominal crisis during the study period. Ages ranged between 1 month and 19 years. Surgical findings included faecalith obstruction (seven horses), enterolith (one horse), strangulating lipoma of the descending colon (one horse), jejunal infarction (one horse), and caecal infarction (one horse). Long-term survival rate (minimum 12 months post surgery) was 55%. Six of eight horses with simple intraluminal obstructions survived, while the three horses with gastrointestinal lesions associated with vascular compromise were euthanased either at surgery (caecal infarction), or postoperatively, due to complications (strangulating lipoma of the descending colon, jejunal infarction). Postoperative complications in this study included impaction of the descending colon (two horses), diarrhoea (two horses), peritonitis (one horse), hyperlipaemia (two horses), incisional infection (two horses) and abdominal adhesions (one horse). Hyperlipidaemia was present in five of seven horses in which serum triglycerides were measured at presentation.

Simple intraluminal obstructions of the large intestine were frequently encountered during exploratory laparotomy in miniature horses presented for acute abdominal crises, and their surgical treatment was associated with a good prognosis. In contrast, this study suggested that abdominal pain associated with vascular compromise of gastrointestinal tissues in miniature horses was associated with a poorer prognosis, consistent with reports in other horse breeds. Possible contributing factors to faecalith formation, including poor quality roughage, dental disease, and inadequate water consumption, should be recognised and avoided in miniature horses. Serum triglyceride concentrations should be measured in miniature horses presented for acute abdominal pain. If elevated, nutritional supplementation should be provided.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10.1111/j.1751-0813.2003.tb12566.x
Pages (from-to)260-264
Number of pages5
JournalAustralian Veterinary Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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