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Poll - (sort of) Colic surgery reasons

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  • Poll - (sort of) Colic surgery reasons

    Spinoff from the colic thread. How many of you have had a horse that had colic surgery, and why was it necessary? I'm interested to hear the different problems that can cause a colic bad enough to require surgery, and to see what the percentages are.

    Mine was an ileal impaction, caused by ileal hypertrophy. No resection done, just manual movement of the impaction. He is recovering fine.
    Last edited by MunchkinsMom; Dec. 3, 2008, 10:22 PM.
    There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams

  • #2
    My ottb had surgery a few years ago to remove a large impaction. There was a torsion, no resection but they did have to open up the intestine and remove the impaction.
    Cause was dehydration from not drinking enough during a weather change. He gets table salt now and soaked food.


    • #3
      Four that I am familiar with:
      Epiploic foramen entrapment, no resection needed. Surgery was 10 years ago; horse doing well

      Displacement of small intestine through hole in mesentary lining. Hole was thought to be congenital and horse had been a chronic colicer. Horse euthanized on table after bleeding problems and subsequent blood pressure decreases; 15 feet of intestine had already died.

      Lipoma strangulation of small intestine; removal of about 5 feet of intestine and resection. Horse was older and was euthanized after severe colic after surgery

      Lipoma strangulation; not sure if there was a resection. Horse was 12. Last I heard he was doing well.

      It won't bother me in the least if I never see New Bolton again!
      \"And indeed the love that the horses of the Rangers bore for their riders was so great that they were willing to face even the terror of the Door , if their masters\' hearts were steady as they walked beside them.\" The Return of the Ki


      • #4
        Displaced cecum; no dissection. Mare was 6 months pregnant when she was operated on. Several intestinal problems after that and a major colic 3 years later that ended her life.

        I would never have another colic surgery on any horse.


        • #5
          In August, surgeon found 15 feet of small intestine that had slipped through a hole in the mesentary. Did not have to resect any intestine; hole was thought to be congenital and due to the location, could not be closed. Prior to this, we had a minor gas colic a few years ago.


          • #6
            16 yo OTTB - Gas colic - displaced cecum, no resection needed. It was caught early and he bounced back 100% from it.
            Good dressage is like grass growing. You don't see anything happening, but over time it becomes more beautiful. - Walter Zettl


            • #7
              Did colic surgery on my OTTB @ the age of 19. Serious cecum displacement, with a blockage in the small intestine. Recovery was easy, and now he's a healthy, happy 24 year old.
              He had always been a colicky horse until his surgery, but since then he is fatter and healthier than he has ever been in the 16 years I have owned him.
              I am a firm believer that whatever caused him needing colic surgery is something that had been bugging him for years, it finally just got bad enough that resolving it with surgery was the only way to fix the problem, and the problem is now gone.
              The only difference between a runaway and a fast gallop is nothing but a SMILE
              Most horses cross the Rainbow Bridge, but TEDDY JUMPED IT!!!
              Member of the COTH Enabler Clique


              • #8

                This summer I was able to attend my first horse surgery (not my horse) and it was very informative but terribly upsetting. The owner had waited too long before coming in and 12 feet of the horse's intestines had died already (so black and literally dead-looking!) The cause? A small, golf-ball-size benign tumor in a long skin sac had wrapped itself around part of the intestines and got tighter and tighter every time the horse rolled around. It cut off all circulation and the intestines looked like a stuffed sausage. The vet unwrapped and removed the growth but because too much of the intestines was dead, the horse had to be put down on the table. It was an 18-year-old gray QH, I think.
                Don't let your horse roll around when you suspect a colic!


                • #9
                  A twisted intestine...took out 5 feet...that was almost 12 years ago. Considered "high risk" because JK was 15 at the time - they even stopped 1/2 way during surgery (I was watching) to show me the dead tissue. We were at UF for TWO WEEKS!!!

                  First year was hell, but well worth it for the last 12 years.


                  • #10
                    I had surgery done on my 8 year old OTTB last year for a tortion. He was at the clinic getting IV ABs and painkillers when he colicked, and went into surgery as soon as the surgeon was able to get there. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but the surgeon came out and told me that there was too much necrotic tissue to resect and he recommended euthanasia, which I did. I think the pain meds masked what was going on and he was also a stoic horse.. It took about two hours for the surgeon to get there, and he was on the table prepped and ready when he did..
                    I would do colic surgery on another horse if they were a surgical candidate.


                    • #11
                      One colic surgery: mare has a torsion twist post foaling and she did not make it/was euthanized during surgery.
                      Providence Farm


                      • #12
                        My QH gelding colicked repeatedly, always with an impaction in the same place. After molnths of this, with the colics occurring more often, l the vets and I decided that exploratory colic surgery was the way to go, hoping to find some sort of obstruction that could be removed. No obstruction, but his colon had lesions on it. Pathology showed he had eosinophilic colitis, an auto-immune problem, and every place where he had lesions, the colon no longer functioned properly. 6 months later, with the colics continuing, he was put down.

                        After that experience, I would NEVER put a horse through the surgery, even if money were no object. That's just me and how I feel. I'd never tell anyone else not to do it, especially since so many horses do well afterwards.



                        • #13
                          12 year old TB event horse had epiploic foramen entrapment. He was fine at noon and trashing by 1 pm. Went straight to Tufts and into surgery, but 23 feet of small intestine was already compromised. Major resection. Three days of reflux and worry, then WOW! Horse came home, was a textbook patient, back to full work in 4 months and completed 12 clean preliminary events in the following years. Never colicked again, other than a slight gas bubble.

                          Sold him to a young girl who loves him and he is teaching her so much. He is so happy to be alive and healthy and was so sweet after the surgery.

                          Please, if the horse is otherwise healthy and sound, consider surgery. Each case is different and each year they are having more and more successes. Don't say NEVER AGAIN just because you had one bad experience. There have been major advances in colic surgery, and my horse proved that you can thrive without 23 feet of intestine!
                          \"I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with someone who is unarmed.\"--Pogo


                          • #14
                            12 year old TB full torsion of the large intestine. No resection. Had a hard time post surgery, was at the clinic for 2 weeks. Came home and recovered uneventfully. Sold him a year later as a CH Jumper for a young girl. Last I heard he was fat and happy.

                            19 year old holsteiner. Nephrosplenatic entrapment. No resection. Was on the table for 40 minutes. Was home post surgery at 4 days. Like pinkdiamond experienced this horse was also a hard keeper pre surgery. Post surgery he is fat and shiny. I think the surgery fixed what ever wasn't right. Oh and surgery was in 2006. Love this horse

                            I believe the best prognosis comes from getting to the clinic quickly rather than waiting.
                            "Half the failures in life result from pulling in one's horse when it is leaping."



                            • #15
                              This summer, ileal impaction, probably from coastal bermuda hay. Had 2 surgeries, no resection, impaction manually manipulated through, another exploratory surgery 2 days afterwards because of continuing pain. Did okay after that though had ilieus after the 2nd surgery and took awhile for the small intestine to begin working. Was at vet clinic 2-1/2 weeks. Came home, did fine for about 4 months, then about 6 weeks ago, began to have colics again. Went back to vet clinic twice, local vet out 3 times, she has popped out of it after some medical intervention (banamine and usually some pain cocktail) each time. Mare is now on only grass diet and some soaked senior feed and soaked alfalfa pellets.

                              Vet clinic 2nd time wanted to exploratory surgery again. I said wait and she popped out of it that afternoon. After what she went through with the first 2 surgeries (and the hit to the pocket book!), I was reluctant. I have no idea what the outcome is going to be on this one. She coliced again about a week ago. I just keep waiting for the next......


                              • Original Poster

                                PSD, since you are the only one that had the same issue as mine, did the vet say anything about a thickening of the walls of the ileum? That is what caused my horse's problem, and the vet recommends that he never get any hay (of any kind) for the rest of his life. She also didn't recommend any hay pellets or alfalfa cubes either, not even soaked.

                                Fortunately he is enjoying 5 meals of Blue Seal Vintage Senior daily, and 16 hours of grazing (even though our grass has pretty much gone dormant). He put all the weight back on, and *knock on wood* no signs of colic.

                                I hate to say, it was a very difficult decision to decide to do the surgery or not, but since he is only 6 years old, I made the right decision, but if it happens again, I might not put him through it twice.

                                Jingles that your mare (and my gelding) stay healthy, but I feel your pain, watching him with an eagle eye for any signs of discomfort.
                                There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


                                • #17
                                  I did not own any of these horses but I was involved in all of their colic surgery/ recoveries in some way. (And they all came from the barn I was boarded at.)

                                  2 were twists caused by lipomas-- both were older mares
                                  1 was a twist with an unspecified cause
                                  1 was a displaced colon baecause it was only attached by a blood vessel

                                  Of the four, three died. One on the table, one 6 hours post surgery, and about 10 days post surgery. Colic scares the $hit out of me.


                                  • #18
                                    Not my horse but when I worked at Tufts in the mid-eighties a horse had a complete western saddle blanket removed. He had somehow swallowed the whole blanket in one piece - the woven kind that you fold in half and put under your saddle pad. The staff had the blanket hanging in a hook outside his stall for the time he was there.


                                    • #19
                                      Impaction during a hot week in the summer. The colon was moved, it ruptured and Dobbin was sent across the Bridge immediately after.

                                      If Dobbin survived we would have fed soaked feed and possibly BP. This had happened before almost the same week in the summer. The grass is straw in late summer and they cant get enough water to prevent problems!
                                      “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker