Narre Warren Vet Dr Robyn Charman Discusses Colic At Her Horse Hospital

We have many colic cases referred to the South Eastern Equine Hospital. It is critical to quickly and accurately assess each patient and at our Narre Warren Vet facility do this as follows:

Initially, a full clinical examination of the patient is performed. Blood samples are taken to assess the horse for dehydration and to detect if there is any vascular compromise to the gastro-intestinal tract. Further blood tests may be performed depending on the information gathered from other examinations.

A rectal examination is performed to detect any abnormalities in the abdominal cavity. For example, if any parts of the intestinal tract are distended (which may indicate obstruction) or impacted, to detect an abnormal mass, or any displacement of part of the large intestine. A rectal ultrasound examination may also be performed to further define the initial rectal examination.

A trans-abdominal ultrasound examination is then performed to assess the gastro-intestinal tract and other organs within the abdominal cavity. This examination helps to identify abnormalities which can further define the disease and assist in formulating a treatment plan. For example...

An ultrasound finding of distended stagnant small intestine in combination with an enlarged stomach and a horse showing severe colic signs may indicate an obstruction of the intestinal tract which would require surgical intervention.

Alternately, increased fluid may be identified within the abdominal cavity on ultrasound examination. Collection and examination of this free fluid may confirm a diagnosis of peritonitis.

Collation and interpretation of the results of our assessments, allows us to firstly determine if the horse requires either medical or surgical management. We also decide if the horse requires intravenous or oral fluid therapy, and whether other medical treatments are appropriate.

If you would like further information on any aspects of colic assessment or management at our Narre Warren Vet facility please feel free to contact Dr Robyn Charman or our Hospital staff on 03 8790 4922.

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