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Strangulating lipoma... VERY early symptoms?

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  • Strangulating lipoma... VERY early symptoms?

    If you've known a horse who had a strangulating lipoma --which was confirmed through surgery-- can you please share any very early symptoms you witnessed?

    I'm talking months to years prior to having surgery and receiving a definitive diagnosis.

    Pease include any oddities, like appearing tucked up on one side, vesiculating, being cast repeatedly, manure inconsitencies, mild colic episodes and any behavioral issues you may have noticed along with a rough time frame of when they occurred.

    Thanks so much.

  • #2
    No, no symptoms ever until sudden severe colic. My mare was 21, had never colicked in eighteen years, and had competed Novice the weekend before. A friend who lost one trailrode regularly and had never noticed an issue.


    • #3
      My horse's symptoms mirrored those of Highflyer's horse. -- none until one day he colicked and colicked multiple times in nine months, until I pit him on Succeed. Succeed bought him another two years of quality life.

      My horse had been with me 24 of his 27' years. He was an ironclad horse in terms of never having health issues, until he developed mild metabolic issues in 2007.

      still-in-all, he stayed healthy. Never had a laminitis episode, lost about 80#, I changed his diet to a low starch diet and,shortened his pasture time (never wore a muzzle).

      It was 2012 when he had his first colic and kept colicking, until one vet at the facility suggested putting him on Succeed. The vets at this facility felt like surgery was too risky for him, given his age and that I would have to drive at least four hours to the nearest equine hospital that could do the surgery..

      He was the strong (and fair) alpha leader of my small herd, so if he did hurt or have a bad day, he never showed it. The only thing I saw him do different was to try and teach the #3 horse how to be the leader someday. The #2 horse was a passive leader and had no desire to take over.

      After being apparently colic-free 2-1/2 years, he had one big colic he couldn't recover from. The vet came out and I laid him to rest in the horse section of my Pet Sematary.

      The vets told me that, for some reason, lipomas seem more common in older geldings, then stallions. I guess mares do get them but not near as often.


      • #4
        Ditto all that - fine until the day he wasn't. This goes for mine, and the 2 other geldings I personally knew who were the same, all 3 ended up dead

        My did have a couple mild colics MANY years before, which stopped when I switched him off the barn's sweet feed to a better feed.

        The thing with these lipomas is they can be growing for years. And for the most part, they are (allegedly) quite benign. I suppose one could get so big as to start pressing on organs.

        But by the time they become strangulating - wrapped around the intestine and literally strangling it - things go very badly, very quickly. And you can't know what's going on. With mine symptoms really points to a spleen entrapment, so JB got the drugs and the lunging to try to get that unhooked. When that didn't work, onto the table he went.

        If you've got months or years of chronic mild colics, I'd suspect ulcers, hind gut acidosis, low grade colitis, permanent damage from parasite infection, that sort of thing, long before strangulating lipoma.
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


        • #5
          My gelding had no problems until the afternoon •

          Late twenties ... in great shape ...ridden or hitched and jogged daily except Monday (barn closed) .

          An enjoyable Sunday jog in May next day late Monday afternoon farrier alerted BO to call vet immediately !

          * surgery ... huge section strangled off at two points ...

          I knew by the faces of the medical staff watching from the side window ... my beloved gelding was not coming home.

          * I still remember everything’s been years now ... still in shock about how quickly it played out .

          No pre warnings •
          Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


          • #6
            Same experience here but the mare, who was 23 at the time of her emergency surgery, is now 30 and keeping me busy feeding her multiple times a day because no teeth left!

            The colic that precipitated the surgery was dreadful. Vet prepared me in case the horse didn't even make it to the vet hospital. But she did and at least this one story turned out well.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Huntin' Pony View Post
              Same experience here but the mare, who was 23 at the time of her emergency surgery, is now 30 and keeping me busy feeding her multiple times a day because no teeth left!

              The colic that precipitated the surgery was dreadful. Vet prepared me in case the horse didn't even make it to the vet hospital. But she did and at least this one story turned out well.
              Bless you for sharing your story ~

              Thank you it helped my heart ~
              Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


              • #8
                Another who showed no warning signs. Mom's 16yo Arab gelding who was retired due to a knee injury. Came on very suddenly, in the evening. He was so painful, vet had to sedate him just to do an exam. He didn't feel anything wrong on palpation, so thought it was illeitis.

                We could not keep him on his feet, so decided to bring him to the clinic. I don't recall what they did for an exam, US maybe? but they ended up doing surgery. We caught it fast enough that no intestine had to be removed. He had to have a second surgery a few days later because they repacked him a little bit wrong, then ended up with a hospital infection and had to wear a belly band for a year, but he survived.


                • #9
                  I'm curious what has precipitated this question.
                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                  • Original Poster

                    Originally posted by JB View Post
                    I'm curious what has precipitated this question.
                    I've worked in a clinic where I've seen the critical phase.. Knew one years prior who would seemingly randomly colic -- resolved by a short trailer ride.

                    Currently involved in the care of one that's not fitting tidily into any specific category. Too much ambiguity to go into here, and frankly it's upsetting b/c I'm fond of this old hoss. Vet thinks there's more than one thing going on, and frankly is leaning toward a pretty dire diagnosis. As all things horses, it's complicated. Just wanted to hear others experiences with lipoma. As it is, hoss is never terribly painful, just crampy. Among other things.


                    • #11
                      Is this that horse with the repeating colics? You thought you had improvement after treating for sand, IIRC? Did you try any other suggestions from that other thread?

                      Another vote for no symptoms prior to very emergent, very grave colic for strangulating lipoma.


                      • #12
                        So, what makes you search for a correlation between those symptoms/that horse, and a strangulating lipoma? Just curious.

                        There are so many other things more likely, including cancer unfortunately. Any ultrasounds done to see if any enteroliths might be seen?
                        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                        • #13
                          In my experience there's been very few symptoms.. and, like others, very few good outcomes.

                          One of my closest friends lost her horse to SL; horse was perky and full of his usual good sass in her AM ride, by that night, he was gone. He had maybe a handful of gas colics in the ten years she had him, that always resolved with banamine. No other symptoms. Necropsy showed that even if he was operated on, it wouldn't have saved him.

                          Like other posters, we could barely keep him on his feet and he was in serious pain. He wouldn't cooperate at all for the vet, or I guess I should say couldn't cooperate, as he was always a very cooperative horse. It was awful.
                          AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


                          • #14
                            I've known 3. One (this one was my horse) had several mild colic episodes for about 3 years prior. But.... I had her for her entire life (23 when we lost her) and I'd say 75% of her life she was NQR with one thing or another so can't say how much one was related to the other. Two (owned by a friend but I saw him daily for most of his life)- completely sudden, no previous colic issues, nothing. Three (well known BN stallion)- was sound and happy till the minute he wasn't
                            Wouldst thou like the taste of butter and pretty dress? Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?


                            • #15
                              My experience is the same as has been mentioned above. Fine and then totally not fine - severe pain, not willing to stand.


                              • #16
                                I think there are some important differences here:

                                Lipomas can exist for many years and either never cause a problem, or, I would imagine, grow big enough to start pressing on things, and maybe movement or a big meal or stress or something else pushes it around and it becomes a painful "gas colic" that resolves once it moves back to its benign location. Just theory.

                                Lipomas are fatty tumors - not cancerous, but they do tend to grow.

                                They aren't all pendulous (as I understand it) but I also seem to recall that once they get big enough, they are, because of how they originate/attach, their sheer weight starts making them drop.

                                Once they get to that point, they can end up wrapped around intestines, and that's when it becomes a strangulating lipoma. And, at that point, it becomes very painful very quickly.

                                I hope that helps explain more why a SL is so very unlikely. That doesn't mean a "simple" lipoma isn't in play, though being a mare the odds are much less than if a gelding.
                                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                                • #17
                                  My former BO lost an older gelding to this. He was metabolic, had laminitis in the past. He had visible fatty tumors you could see and feel on his midsection. Vet said if you see them outside, they're inside as well. He was fine one minute, then in agony after having a roll in the dirt.


                                  • #18
                                    A strangulating lipoma, by definition, is an acute onset illness. One minute they're fine, the next minute the lipoma has wrapped around something important,cutting off blood flow. Cue typically severe colic signs that don't stop until intervention or death.

                                    To explain, lipomas are benign tumors. All that means is they grow in one place and don't spread. A malignant tumor is a tumor that spreads. Maybe it's in your pancreas today, but by Tuesday it's in your liver and marching on. "Benign" is a term that makes us feel safe, but a benign tumor growing in the wrong place can still kill you. Enter the strangulating lipoma.

                                    A lipoma can float in your belly for years, hanging by a pedicle or on some omentum, then one day, through a stroke of bad luck, it flips itself over/around an intestine and cuts off the blood supply. A blood starved gut is a painful, angry gut. It will quickly tell the brain things are pear-shaped and Dobbins goes from munching hay to rolling, trying to fix it. The trouble is, if it's wrapped well enough to cut off the blood supply, it's almost 99% certain Dobbins can't roll it free.

                                    Vague, on-and-off colic signs are not strangulating lipomas. It may still be a lipoma or other mass that intermittently rolls in the way, squeezes the gut, interferes with blood flow or actually grows inside and irritates or occludes the intestine, but strangulation results in death of the gut followed by death of the horse. A really hardy horse will live a couple days as it's strangulated gut leads to septicemia and a slow death. Most go much faster, due in large part to us stepping in and helping.

                                    If you're talking years, think enteroliths, IBD, recurrent sand, really poorly placed mass or old scar tissue from things like intususceptions as foals, heck, even epiploic foramen entrapment can be something lucky horses repeatedly fix on their own, until they don't. STRANGULATING lipomas are acute and fast. If your horse is sick for years, then dies of a strangulating lipoma, it's most likely the lipoma beat the other illness to the punch line. It's also possible that horse had a hyper- or hypo-motile gut related to the other issue and those changes made it easier for a lipoma to wrap and strangle the gut.

                                    tl;dr - Strangulating lipomas are acute by nature. A chronic colic horse may die of a strangulating lipoma but the two likely aren't linked unless that lipoma was doing something other than strangulating.
                                    Maybe too much info for your case, but I figure at some point someone in the future might have a similar issue. Colics aren't exactly uncommon.


                                    • #19
                                      How common are these? The ones where they are fine and then NOT FINE? I had only heard of these last month from this thread and lost my pony yesterday to one. He was older but not OLD, and was healthy and happy and then not. Went from ok to gone in under 2 hours


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Hilary View Post
                                        How common are these? The ones where they are fine and then NOT FINE? I had only heard of these last month from this thread and lost my pony yesterday to one. He was older but not OLD, and was healthy and happy and then not. Went from ok to gone in under 2 hours
                                        I am so sorry for your loss

                                        itvseems ms they are uncommonly-common.

                                        For some reason more so in geldings, then stallions, then mares.

                                        My understanding is surgery is possible for some but not for others. My fella was not a candidate but I was able to give him two extra years of quality life before I lost him at age 27. I kept him on "Succeed" but even that reached a point where it stopped helping.