Colic: a race to surgery—or not?

By Connie Orcutt • Published: September 1st, 2016
Category: Animal Airwaves

Colic is a catch-all term for abdominal pain. In some cases, it’s caused by cramps or gas that can be treated medically. But other causes of colic, such as twists in the digestive tract, require surgical treatment. And the faster a colicky horse has surgery, the more likely he is to recover.

The problem is, the signs of medical and surgical colic can look the same, and no one diagnostic test is perfect. But some tests are more predictive than others.

For example, the worse a horse’s pain, the more likely the need for surgery. Those odds go up if the pain doesn’t respond to certain medications. And if the veterinarian can collect fluid from the horse’s abdomen, the darker the fluid, the more likely the need for surgery.

You can do your part too. If you suspect colic, contact your veterinarian right away. Remember, the clock is ticking.