Good news about life after colic surgery

Research shows that colic surgery is unlikely to end a horse's career.
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Colic surgery may temporarily sideline a horse but it’s unlikely to end his career, according to a study from Finland.

The term colic refers to any pain in the gut.

A study from FInland found nearly 75 percent of horses who underwent surgery for colic survived to be discharged from the hospital. 

Researchers at the University of Helsinki reviewed the records of 236 horses who underwent surgery for colic between 2006 and 2012. In addition to collecting clinical data related to diagnosis, surgical treatment and post-operative care, the researchers gathered information about each horse from national competition records and conducted follow-up interviews with owners.

They found that 74.9 percent of the horses survived surgery to be discharged from the hospital. During the first year after the operation, 20 percent of those horses had one or more colic episodes, and 38 percent had an episode of colic in the period between discharge and the end of the study period in November 2014. However, only three of the horses (2.2 percent) surviving to be discharged later required another colic surgery.

Slightly more than three-quarters of the discharged horses (78.5 percent), returned to work at their previous level of performance or higher.

Reference: “Long-term follow-up on recovery, return to use and sporting activity: a retrospective study of 236 operated colic horses in Finland (2006-2012),” Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica

This article first appeared in issue 476 of EQUUS magazine

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