My gelding, who has experenced multiple colic episodes, coliced again today. This one was different however, however, very gassy, displacement and now refluxing. He is at the clinic overnight receiving fluids.
I am debating about colic surgery if comes down to it. Most likely we will have to make a decision tomorrow if he is not better.
What is the success rate of colic surgery? How daunting is the care afterwords? I really care about my horse - and want to make the best decision for him - but also don't have thousands to spend on surgery either. It would a financial hardship for us. But I don't want to lose my horse either if he can be saved by surgery.
Colic surgery outcomes and costs vary with the reason for and scope of the surgery. Your clinic will best be able to tell you the approximate odds and expenses based on your vet's knowledge of your horse's particular situation.
My personal experience with colic surgery was positive. I spent right around $5k for an emergency procedure and 12 days hospitalization following the surgery. Aftercare consisted of 30 days of stall rest with hand walking, then gradual return to full turnout and work over the next few months. My horse had no complications and lived another totally healthy 7 years before dying from the complications of natural aging.
I agree that there are too many variables to give an across the board prognosis. The majority of horses do well in my experience unless there is a major resection or complications. Jingles you don't need an answer to that question anytime soon!
Hollywood, but not the one where they have the Oscars!
In my opinion of he is already a chronic colicker..I wouldn't. My horse survived surgery and 21 days in the hospital with peritonitis last year, but hers was directly related to eating her grain in sand, and she had never had a [roblem beofer, nor has she colicked again since last october.
"You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"
The cost and long term outcome of colic surgery depends on so many things. It is definitely a discussion you should have with one of the surgeons and know if you want to go forward with surgery or not. Your horse may decide in the middle of the night that yep, I would like to go to surgery and NOW. Having that basic decision made will make a world of difference! And there is no judgement depending on how far you want to go. It is not not unheard of to go to colic surgery and decline to go further if the post-operative prognosis is poor. I know you don't want to hear that, but you should know that going in.
Those things said, your prognosis and cost estimate depends on something as basic as large colon vs small intestine. Small intestine tends to cost more, especially if the surgery involves taking out dead intestine. Also, postoperatively, SI tends to cost more, as these horses require more intensive care (refluxing, careful attention to nutrition, etc.). The SI intestinal surgery is one you want to be on standby for while in so that if they need to resect they will often say ok, we need to take out X amount, and based on the location we have to attach this to this and this carries a ______ long term prognosis.
I hope your baby feels better and gets fixed medically!
My horse had colic surgery a little over 2 years ago.
Cost was about 6k for the hospital stay alone. And then probably another 1k for aftercare (from my Vet). But he is fully insured so that made the decision a no-brainer. His recovery went well (he was only at the hospital about a week) and I sent him to a rehab facility who could keep an eye on him around the clock. Felt better doing that than taking him back to the boarding barn.
He was on stall rest for 30 days (hand walking/grazing 2x a day), then very small turnout (attached run) for about 2 weeks. And then small paddock turn out for another 2 weeks. I was able to take him "home" from the rehab facility about 60 days after surgery. He had another 30 days of just turn out and then I was able to start riding him again. Started with 10 minutes at the walk and worked up to 30-45 minutes. Slowly added trot and then canter work. I'd say he was back to doing all flat work about 2 months after I started riding him again.
So in total, it was about 5 months of recovery. Which was about right (they told me 5-6 months).
He didn't have any major complications (he did get a slight infection and needed to be on ABs for awhile) and he had never coliced before either.
It did take me awhile longer to really get him fit again after the surgery. But that was partly because of an old hip injury that goes "down hill" if I don't keep him in at least light work. And since he was off for awhile, it actually took longer to build him back up from that than the colic surgery itself.
Jingles for your guy... hopefully it can be resolved w/o surgery. Mine wasn't... he was in major distress. So if I hadn't had insurance or if I couldn't have afforded the surgery, he would have been put down as he wouldn't have survived anyways.
My friend has had 3 horses have colic surgery. Two were uncomplicated from beginning to end. The one surgery cost her $5,900. Both recoveries, from my perspective as the friend, looked smooth and easy. A week after surgery, those two horses were shiny and looked healthy. Horse number 3 was a different story. Right from the beginning, the surgeon warned her that the prognosis was not good. They resected small bowel and were concerned that they might not have removed enough small bowel/intestine. A few days later, the surgeons went back in and removed more small bowel. The horses developed a bad infection and died. I think my friend spent almost $20,000, and ended up with a dead horse. This was a 12 year old, previously healthy, lovely competition horse. It was very sad to lose him, and I understand completely why they tried to save him with multiple surgeries.
In summary, try to figure out the prognosis before you authorize surgery. Surgical colics vary greatly in terms of cost and prognosis. In most situations, I don't think I would put a horse through surgery if he was high risk.
I sent my 17 year old to surgery. One minute playing in the field, next minute out flat. Epiploic foramen entrapment. Was going to put him down right there but he was insured for surgery and my vet said I could always make a decision after they opened him up. No resection, 8 grand and six days in the hospital. He went to a friend's rehab farm afterward. Mr CAH hand walked him twice a day for the first 30 days. Stall rest first 30, small paddock 31 to 60 and regular turnout 61 to 90. Surgery took alot out of him. I also know of several others that had surgery....some were back on the track after 90 days and some didn't make it
It get expensive when there is resection going on....and more chance of problems. I was told my type of colic had a very low survival rate but we got him there in time.
Make your decision and tell the hospital. It can help determine which road for treatment they go down. My surgeon knew I would make a final decision once he opened him up and saw what the prognosis was.
Resections are bad. I wouldn't do one again, just because I have had a couple of bad experiences with them. The surgery really does have a better success rate than it used to (I know one of the doctors who has done a lot of the pioneering work on it and she did the work on my horse, but it did not have a good outcome). That said, I've also had a couple of good cases. My stallion had a good surgery but an awful recovery before I had him - the incision line got infected and he herniated, and had to have a second surgery to repair it. THAT was a heck of a recovery! But he's now back in full dressage work as if nothing had ever happened - fit as a fiddle with no restrictions. He's a walking/cantering miracle horse.
I've handled several surgical repair recoveries and it's not my favorite rehab, but not my least favorite either. I no longer fear that their guts are going to come spilling out on me lol but the hand walking and small enclosure turnout with some horses can be challenging. So when you consider surgery, consider the whole horse - how well will he/she handle stall rest and turnout? Will they need reserpine to be safely handwalked?
It's a lot to think about when your horse is sick and you are stressed, so it's good to think about a bit when your horse is healthy.
Another key is to consider your horse's personality. Do you expect them to panic on re-awakening? Are they tough, or are they wusses? Based on experience and our research, we believe fully HALF of the prognosis, given the excellent veterinary treatment available, should be based on the horse himself. Our guy went in with a poor prognosis, was up and hollering for lunch as quickly as could be expected, home in 4 days. Aftercare not an issue. Back to work in 3 months. But this was (and still is) one tough horse - must have been in tremendous pain a lot earlier than we thought and he just didn't tell us (or the vet). We did have the best people in the world treating and attending him as well.
I had colic surgery done on a chronic colicker --- the hope was that there was some physical blockage, maybe a plastic carrot bag,that he'd eaten. Turned out to be eosinophic colitis, he continued to colic regularly, and was put down 6 months later. I decided then that I'd never do colic surgery again on any horse of mine. YMMV. He was a tough horse, but it wore both of us down.