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Colic Surgery - opinions wanted

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  • Colic Surgery - opinions wanted

    We lost a grand old mare to impaction colic last night. At the ripe old age of 33 she was not a candidate for surgery so her owner let her go. The old girl slipped away peacefully surrounded by her human friends. (I did suggest to the BM that they let her best friend and pasture mate come to say his goodbyes - he will be lost without her and it might help soften the blow if he could see her body )

    At any rate, this very sad event got me to thinking about colic surgery. The vet on call last night said that the average colic surgery (at their clinic) runs $10,000!

    So, how many of you would, if your horse were a candidate, elect to have the surgery done?

    If you did go ahead with the surgery - was the outcome good? Was it worth the risk? Do you worry any more or less because you did the surgery?

    I love my gelding dearly, but I'm not sure I could justify the risk or the expense. Would it be horrible, that even if your horse was a candidate, you elected not to do the surgery?

    These are the kind of things that keep me up at night . . .
    http://fromdressagehorsetocowpony.blogspot.com/

    "I am still under the impression that there is nothing alive quite so beautiful as a thoroughbred horse." -- John Galsworthy

  • #2
    No, it's not horrible. At some point, most people (unless they have unlimited deep pockets) have to put a dollar limit on medical intervention.
    Off Topic Discussion about Life, Interests & Politics
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    • #3
      Tiger Horse, I am so sorry for your loss!

      Yes, one must think really long and hard, and justify the expense, the risk of failure (death) in the outcome even after money is spent, and realize the horse may survive, but his life may still be compromised post recovery.

      I had one horse that had a torsion, had a text book colic surgery and recovery - cost me 8K out of my pocket.

      I already know that I would not be able do it again, unless the horse was insured. That colic surgery horse was not insured at the time of surgery. (Sadly, he had a life ending accident last year. Again, not insured (I could not afford to insure them all at them time; really wish I could have! Ouchie financial losses all around on that horse. I really wish I could have saved him! ).

      Sadly, all things must be considered in such a critical situation. Economics of the situation must be examined.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by LauraKY View Post
        No, it's not horrible. At some point, most people (unless they have unlimited deep pockets) have to put a dollar limit on medical intervention.
        Laura, thanks. I guess that's true of most people, isn't it? And even if you could afford it, I wonder if it's worth it in the long run . . .
        http://fromdressagehorsetocowpony.blogspot.com/

        "I am still under the impression that there is nothing alive quite so beautiful as a thoroughbred horse." -- John Galsworthy

        Comment


        • #5
          I am sorry for your loss, but she had a LONG life! As to colic surgery and extensives treatments, I basically have a "rule" that if it can be done at the farm with a reasonable cost, I will do it. If it involves going to a clinic/surgery, most likely I will not as the cost goes up QUICKLY when that horse steps off the trailer! The one exception may be my stallion, IF i truly think i can manage it. I have too many horses to carry insurance on all of them. But for the horse owner with just one horse, I highly recommend insurance for these types of things. Of course, the horse has to be insurable and an older horse is not usually insurable.
          www.shawneeacres.net

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by Fantastic View Post
            Tiger Horse, I am so sorry for your loss!

            Yes, one must think really long and hard, and justify the expense, the risk of failure in the outcome even after money is spent, and realize the horse may survive, but his life may still be compromised post recovery.

            I had one horse that had a torsion, had a text book colic surgery and recovery - cost me 8K out of my pocket.

            I already know that I would not be able do it again, unless the horse was insured. That horse was insured at the time of surgery.

            Sadly, all things must be considered in such a critical situation. Economics of the situation must be examined.
            Thank you. It's been a tough six months at our barn - lots of oldies that owners have had to let go. I guess you have to expect it at some point, but it sure has been hard.

            $8k with insurance? WOW

            My worst fear would be to opt for surgery and then lose them anyway. Such a risk.

            So glad it turned out well for you and your horse!
            http://fromdressagehorsetocowpony.blogspot.com/

            "I am still under the impression that there is nothing alive quite so beautiful as a thoroughbred horse." -- John Galsworthy

            Comment


            • #7
              I opted for colic surgery on my mare when she was 17 or 18. A lot (most) people thought I was insane. Total cost was around $9k after counting in the hospital stay, vet bills from the work prior to the surgery, etc.

              She had the best recovery and was back to regular work in no time. The vets were pretty surprised at how quickly she recovered.

              Biggest complication was infection at the suture site. Two rounds of Tucaprim cleared it up.

              Worst time? Seeing my horse hanging from her legs being taken into the operating room. Second worst? Trying to get her into the step-up trailer for the ride home when her stomach was full of staples.

              Do I regret it? Not for one second. She is now almost 26 and still gets ridden regularly. If I hadn't done it, I always would've wondered "what if." I was luckily that I had the financial means and help from my parents to get the surgery paid for.

              Comment


              • #8
                My two are mid- to late-teens now. They are the absolute epicenter of my existence, but major surgery is a no-go for us. God forbid it should come about, but I'd have to let them go. *shudder*
                "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                Spay and neuter. Please.

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by shawneeAcres View Post
                  I am sorry for your loss, but she had a LONG life! As to colic surgery and extensives treatments, I basically have a "rule" that if it can be done at the farm with a reasonable cost, I will do it. If it involves going to a clinic/surgery, most likely I will not as the cost goes up QUICKLY when that horse steps off the trailer! The one exception may be my stallion, IF i truly think i can manage it. I have too many horses to carry insurance on all of them. But for the horse owner with just one horse, I highly recommend insurance for these types of things. Of course, the horse has to be insurable and an older horse is not usually insurable.
                  Thank you and yes, she did have a good long life. The owner will have a wealth of good memories to draw on for comfort - when she's ready.

                  I think your "rule" is right on the mark. And I learned last night that it costs $1,000 just to walk into the clinic. Another boarder lost her horse last month - also older and a colic case - cost her $3,000 at the clinic and they couldn't save her, she was septic by the time she got there.

                  I can certainly understand going that extra mile for a stud or mare/broodmare if you're in the breeding business.

                  I have considered insurance, might have to look at it again.
                  http://fromdressagehorsetocowpony.blogspot.com/

                  "I am still under the impression that there is nothing alive quite so beautiful as a thoroughbred horse." -- John Galsworthy

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    My horse colicked badly in August of 2009 (fine one minute, literally throwing himself on the ground the next). Vet was close by, got to the farm quickly, sedated him, rectal was fine. I was asked if he was a surgical candidate and when I said yes, the vet was instantly on the phone to the clinic an hour away.

                    Thankfully, we took the center divider out of the trailer as he was down and rolling for the entire trip, despite three doses of Xyalzine (one to sedate for the rectal, half an hour later - a dose to get him up so we could - literally - shove him into the trailer, and another as soon as he was on the trailer) in the space of an hour.

                    When we got to the clinic, he was down in the trailer, side bumper pads all ripped up. An IV catheter was put in while he was still in the trailer - then it took nine people to drag him out. He was on the table in about five minutes.

                    I did watch the surgery - he did not have a torsion, he did have a gastric impaction because about 20 feet of small intestine had slipped through a (likely congenital) hole in the mesentary. They put the intestine back where it belonged, had to lavage his stomach (pass a tube) 4x to resolve the gastric impaction. He spent 3 days in the clinic, was sent home with 6 tubes of Gastrogard..... to the tune of $6500. This is in NJ where everything is $$$.

                    I don't believe I would put him through surgery again. The hole in the mesentary was so deep in the abdomen that it could not be closed; this could re-occur at any time. As the vet says, it's likely that he was born with the hole - and he made it 13 years before it caused a problem. Hopefully it won't be an issue again. The surgeon did say if we had gotten him to the clinic half an hour later, they would have had to resect that 20 feet of intestine.

                    Did I mention I hate colic?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I've done it twice, the 2nd time with horrible complications (degloving injury + antibody resistant infection) that drove the costs well up in the 5 figure range. The horse recovered well and stayed well for 6 years on a diet purged of cereal grains. Then she died with horrifying suddenness from a massive septic attack apparently triggered by something one of my other horses brought home from a horseshow-- we took everyone's temperature as soon as we noticed how high hers was (104 +), found his was slightly elevated, and medicated him prophylactically with the kitchen sink. My 2x miracle [torsion] colic survivor was only 12 when I lost her, the loss apparently having no relation to the colic.

                      I paid the vet bills by rotating 0% interest introductory offers from 5 credit card companies. Took me about 3 years to get out of debt. Would I do it again? I don't know. I know myself well enough to know that I won't really be making that decision again until I have to. Besides, a lot would depend on the details of my situation at the time.
                      http://www.tunnelsendfarm.com

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Jo View Post
                        I opted for colic surgery on my mare when she was 17 or 18. A lot (most) people thought I was insane. Total cost was around $9k after counting in the hospital stay, vet bills from the work prior to the surgery, etc.

                        She had the best recovery and was back to regular work in no time. The vets were pretty surprised at how quickly she recovered.

                        Biggest complication was infection at the suture site. Two rounds of Tucaprim cleared it up.

                        Worst time? Seeing my horse hanging from her legs being taken into the operating room. Second worst? Trying to get her into the step-up trailer for the ride home when her stomach was full of staples.

                        Do I regret it? Not for one second. She is now almost 26 and still gets ridden regularly. If I hadn't done it, I always would've wondered "what if." I was luckily that I had the financial means and help from my parents to get the surgery paid for.

                        Jo - great story, thanks for sharing - so glad it all worked out for you and your mare. I can't even imagine seeing my guy going into surgery (knock on wood - I won't have to)!
                        http://fromdressagehorsetocowpony.blogspot.com/

                        "I am still under the impression that there is nothing alive quite so beautiful as a thoroughbred horse." -- John Galsworthy

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I would with my mare. Now, I do have her insured for major medical and life so that is a big reason why I would opt for surgery. If I didn't have her insured I think it would depend on the probably outcome, age of the mare and if the vet clinic was willing to work with me regarding payments.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Not entirely the same but we just went through a gelding herniation. So the colt had to be opened up just like a colic bowels lavaged etc etc. Before he was even put on the table the clinic required a 4500$ dollar retainer. He has med surg insurance but it had a 10k cap. 10 Days in the clinic on iv antibiotics and other care and he was well over his insurance cap.

                            Horse health care is expensive..but have you ever looked at your own hospital medical bills it pails in comparison.

                            Medicine in general some how sometime long ago just got terribly inflated.
                            "I would not beleive her if her tongue came notorized"

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by monstrpony View Post
                              My two are mid- to late-teens now. They are the absolute epicenter of my existence, but major surgery is a no-go for us. God forbid it should come about, but I'd have to let them go. *shudder*
                              I think you are very wise to know what you will do, given certain circumstances.

                              There was a lag in the decision made last night because the owner originally considered taking her mare to the clinic. I think the BO finally convinced her it would not be in the mare's best interests. First, she wasn't a surgical candidate and second, she hadn't been on a trailer in 20 some years. The stress of that alone would have been awful for her.
                              The mare did not suffer during this lag - she was heavily sedated, but I think it's very smart - at least as they get that old - that you, the owner, have some idea of what your criteria is for letting go . . .
                              http://fromdressagehorsetocowpony.blogspot.com/

                              "I am still under the impression that there is nothing alive quite so beautiful as a thoroughbred horse." -- John Galsworthy

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by tarynls View Post
                                My horse colicked badly in August of 2009 (fine one minute, literally throwing himself on the ground the next). Vet was close by, got to the farm quickly, sedated him, rectal was fine. I was asked if he was a surgical candidate and when I said yes, the vet was instantly on the phone to the clinic an hour away.

                                Thankfully, we took the center divider out of the trailer as he was down and rolling for the entire trip, despite three doses of Xyalzine (one to sedate for the rectal, half an hour later - a dose to get him up so we could - literally - shove him into the trailer, and another as soon as he was on the trailer) in the space of an hour.

                                When we got to the clinic, he was down in the trailer, side bumper pads all ripped up. An IV catheter was put in while he was still in the trailer - then it took nine people to drag him out. He was on the table in about five minutes.

                                I did watch the surgery - he did not have a torsion, he did have a gastric impaction because about 20 feet of small intestine had slipped through a (likely congenital) hole in the mesentary. They put the intestine back where it belonged, had to lavage his stomach (pass a tube) 4x to resolve the gastric impaction. He spent 3 days in the clinic, was sent home with 6 tubes of Gastrogard..... to the tune of $6500. This is in NJ where everything is $$$.

                                I don't believe I would put him through surgery again. The hole in the mesentary was so deep in the abdomen that it could not be closed; this could re-occur at any time. As the vet says, it's likely that he was born with the hole - and he made it 13 years before it caused a problem. Hopefully it won't be an issue again. The surgeon did say if we had gotten him to the clinic half an hour later, they would have had to resect that 20 feet of intestine.

                                Did I mention I hate colic?
                                tarynls - good lord, what an ordeal. I do now remember your thread on this. I hope it is clear sailing for you both from here on out and that you will have no further issues.
                                http://fromdressagehorsetocowpony.blogspot.com/

                                "I am still under the impression that there is nothing alive quite so beautiful as a thoroughbred horse." -- John Galsworthy

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Hope 2011 treats your barn better. I would not spend $10,000 on a colic surgery.
                                  Free bar.ka and tidy rabbit.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by fish View Post
                                    I've done it twice, the 2nd time with horrible complications (degloving injury + antibody resistant infection) that drove the costs well up in the 5 figure range. The horse recovered well and stayed well for 6 years on a diet purged of cereal grains. Then she died with horrifying suddenness from a massive septic attack apparently triggered by something one of my other horses brought home from a horseshow-- we took everyone's temperature as soon as we noticed how high hers was (104 +), found his was slightly elevated, and medicated him prophylactically with the kitchen sink. My 2x miracle [torsion] colic survivor was only 12 when I lost her, the loss apparently having no relation to the colic.

                                    I paid the vet bills by rotating 0% interest introductory offers from 5 credit card companies. Took me about 3 years to get out of debt. Would I do it again? I don't know. I know myself well enough to know that I won't really be making that decision again until I have to. Besides, a lot would depend on the details of my situation at the time.
                                    fish, so very sorry for your loss.

                                    Let's hope you don't have to face that decision again. Twice in one lifetime is more than enough.
                                    http://fromdressagehorsetocowpony.blogspot.com/

                                    "I am still under the impression that there is nothing alive quite so beautiful as a thoroughbred horse." -- John Galsworthy

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by SaddleUp158 View Post
                                      I would with my mare. Now, I do have her insured for major medical and life so that is a big reason why I would opt for surgery. If I didn't have her insured I think it would depend on the probably outcome, age of the mare and if the vet clinic was willing to work with me regarding payments.
                                      Just curious - even with insurance, are there any instances where you would not consider surgery?
                                      http://fromdressagehorsetocowpony.blogspot.com/

                                      "I am still under the impression that there is nothing alive quite so beautiful as a thoroughbred horse." -- John Galsworthy

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I might consider letting them open one up, but if they had to resect the intestine, I would euth on the table. If they just had to remove an impaction, without removing sections of the intestine, I'd be willing to try. But the surgeries where a section of the intestine have been removed, just didn't have successful outcomes for the most part (from what I've seen), so I wouldn't probably do it.

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