Colic Surgery

colic surgery

Colic surgery is performed on an emergency basis 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Anesthesia is administered by registered veterinary technicians, and horses are monitored intra-operatively (as are all general anesthesia patients at the hospital) with an electrocardiogram (ECG) and direct arterial blood pressure assessment, and breathing is assisted and supported with a ventilator. 

Our board-certified surgeons perform all types of colic surgery on all ages of horses.  Large colon displacements and large colon torsions are the most common surgical problems of the large colon (in the picture to the right Dr. Milligan performing colic surgery on a soft tissue horse with a large colon displacement).  Common small intestinal problems include strangulating lipomas and epiploic foramen entrapments, but many other conditions are also diagnosed and treated.  Small intestinal problems often require a resection and anastomosis (removal of severely damaged intestine). 

Post-operatively, horses are monitored 24 hours a day.  Heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature, and gastrointestinal sounds are carefully documented multiple times daily.  Administration of intravenous fluids, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, and medication for pain are administered for several days after surgery.  Re-introduction of food and water occurs slowly, and appetite and manure production are closely monitored.  If the post-operative period is uncomplicated, horses are hospitalized for approximately 7 days.