Colic surgery: What are the chances of success?

rollingNorwegian researchers have cast a spotlight on equine colic surgeries, assessing outcomes from operations performed during a seven-year period.

Bjørn Wormstrand and his colleagues explored the outcomes from surgeries performed on 297 horses at two equine hospitals in Norway between 2005 and 2011.

The 297 horses comprised 132 (44.4 percent) geldings, 111 (37.4 percent) females and 53 (17.8 percent) stallions. Sex was not recorded in one case. The median age was seven.

In all, 78 horses (26.3 percent) were euthanized during surgery due to the grave prognosis assessed by the surgeons.

The overall short-term survival was 74 percent (162 of 219 surgeries), excluding those euthanized during surgery.

The 162 that survived to discharge represented 54.5 percent of those who went under the knife.

The researchers, whose findings have been published in the journal, Acta Veterinaria Scandinavia, said the overall short-term survival rate of 54.8 percent was lower than reported in other similar studies, which reported an overall survival rate from 48 percent to 85.0 percent.

Fifty seven (19.1 percent) of the 297 horses that underwent surgery were euthanized in the postoperative period. In general, persisting colic signs, laminitis and animal welfare concerns were common reasons.

The researchers found that lesions in the large colon doubled the odds of survival compared to small intestine. This, they reported, was in accordance with other studies.

The researchers said their findings regarding surgical treatment of equine colic in Norway were in many aspects similar to those reported overseas, although the survival rate was lower than in similar studies.

They noted that the study showed an increased survival rate if the surgeon was board-certified.

The study is titled “Surgical treatment of equine colic – a retrospective study of 297 surgeries in Norway 2005-2011”.

Surgical treatment of equine colic – a retrospective study of 297 surgeries in Norway 2005-2011
Bjørn H Wormstrand, Carl F Ihler, Ragnhild Diesen, and Randi I Krontveit.
Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 2014, 56:38 doi:10.1186/1751-0147-56-38

The full study can be read here


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