Good news about recovery from colic surgery

The long-term prognosis for horses who survive colic surgery is positive.

A study from the Netherlands has found that the long-term prognosis for horses who survive colic surgery is good, but a full return to athletic function may be more difficult.

Researchers at Utrecht University collected data on 283 horses who underwent colic surgery at the clinic there. Fifty-nine percent of the horses survived to be discharged. Of the horses who could be tracked after returning home, 96 percent were still alive a year later and 63 percent achieved the same or an improved level of performance as before surgery.

Click here to read more about post-operative physical therapy for horses.

A grey showjumper clearing a fence.
A full return to athletic function following colic surgery may not always go smoothly.

But the return to work didn’t always go smoothly for the study horses: Altered behavior and gait-related problems were reported by the owners in 46 percent of the cases. The researchers did not investigate whether these problems were associated with the colic surgery, but they conclude that “improving veterinary aftercare in collaboration with other disciplines (such as physiotherapy and saddle fitting) during rehabilitation could be a means to further improve athletic performance and welfare after recovery from colic surgery.”

Reference: “Colic surgery in horses: A retrospective study into short- and long-term survival rate, complications and rehabilitation toward sporting activity,”Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, July 2020

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