Surgical management of foreign body obstruction of the small and large colons in 29 equids (2004–2016)

G. L. Oreff*, A. J. Tatz, R. Dahan, T. Raz, G. Kelmer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The objectives of the study were to describe the clinical presentation, surgical findings, complications and outcome of a case series of small and large colon obstruction by foreign bodies (FBs) in horses. The study is a retrospective case series which included 29 equids (28 horses and one donkey). Medical records of cases diagnosed with FB obstruction of the large or small colon between the years 2004 and 2016 that underwent surgery were reviewed. Data regarding signalment, clinical signs, surgical findings and post-operative variables were recorded. Short- (survival to hospital discharge) and long- (1 year after surgery) term survival rates were obtained. Cases had a mean age of 4.2 years, with both females and Arabian horses being overrepresented. Abdominal distention was the most common observation on presentation and the FB could be palpated in 20% of the cases during rectal examination. The most common reason to go into surgery was severe pain with abdominal distention. Significantly more FBs were found in the small colon during surgery (P<0.0001) and most were removed by small colon enterotomy. Complications rate post-operatively was relatively high (41%) with fever and diarrhoea being most common. Twenty-three cases (79%) were released from the hospital and all cases that were available for long-term follow-up were alive and returned to previous activity. No correlation between the chosen method of surgical removal of the FB and survival or complications post-operatively was noted. These data reflect favourable prognosis for surgical removal of colonic FBs. Few techniques are available to improve the safety of removal and the preferred method depends on the FB location, appearance and mobility. As FB obstruction resembles ‘noncomplicated’ colonic impaction, it is essential to try and recognise FB cases since deterioration can be rapid and surgery is the only sufficient treatment.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)424-430
Number of pages7
JournalEquine Veterinary Education
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2020

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  • colic
  • foreign body
  • horse


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