Repeat colic surgeries spell trouble

Research shows that prognosis is guarded for horses who require a two colic surgeries within a two week period.
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Although success rates for colic surgery have improved over the past few decades, a study shows that the prognosis is guarded at best for horses who require a second surgical intervention within 14 days of the initial colic procedure.

The term colic refers to any pain in the gut.

When researchers at the Royal Veterinary College in England reviewed the cases of 92 horses admitted to three referral hospitals who required two colic surgeries within a two-week period, they found that only 23.9 percent were still alive six months after discharge from the hospital.

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Repeat surgery was necessary for a variety of reasons, but the data showed that horses who required intestinal resection (removal of a portion of the intestines) during either the first or second surgery were significantly less likely to survive long enough to be discharged. Likewise, only two of 13 horses who underwent resections during both procedures survived more than six months.

Reference: “Indications, complications and outcomes of horses undergoing repeated celiotomy within 14 days after the first colic surgery: 95 cases (2005-2013),” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, March 2015

This article first appeared in EQUUS issue #456

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