Researchers describe wire ingestion by horse


Veterinarians in Italy have reported on the death of a horse from spleen problems resulting from ingesting metal wires.

The findings by clinicians at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at the University of Turin were published in the Equine Veterinary Journal.

The researchers said that ingestion of wire was suspected as being behind the 15-year-old standardbred gelding’s chronic weight loss, inappetance and pyrexia because, during the previous 18 months, six horses coming from the same yard had been referred for recurrent or acute colic related to ingesting metal wire.

Spleen problems were detected by ultrasound and confirmed during surgery.

The animal did not survive and, during the necropsy, two metallic wires 0.2 mm in diameter and 3 to 4 centimetres long were found in a markedly enlarged spleen with several non-encapsulated abscesses.

“Metallic wire perforation and migration through the lower alimentary tract may involve different abdominal quadrants – intestine, abdominal wall, spleen, liver – and lead to different clinical syndromes as acute or recurrent colic and weight loss,” the authors said.

“A clinical diagnosis is challenging as the clinical signs are often nonspecific and prognosis is generally considered poor.”


Rosso, A., Bullone, M., Gillono, E., Greppi, M. C. and Bertuglia, A. (2012), Splenic abscesses due to migrant metallic wires from small intestine in a horse. Equine Veterinary Education, 24: 286–290. doi: 10.1111/j.2042-3292.2011.00280.x

The summary is available online at here.





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