Dr. Krista Estellwith Krista Estell, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM Clinical Assistant Professor of Equine Medicine

Earlier this month, we discussed colic surgery, the need for rapid correction of surgical conditions, and the role that postoperative care plays in successful outcomes. But what about horses with colic that do not need colic surgery? How do they benefit from emergency and critical medical care?

Whenever possible, if your horse is not responsive to medical therapy administered on the farm, referral to a hospital should occur without delay. Immediate evaluation of your horse, including ultrasound examination and comprehensive laboratory testing of blood and abdominal fluid (available 24/7 in a hospital), can help determine the likely cause of the colic and the most appropriate therapy.

Common causes of medical colic include; gas distension or impaction of the large intestine, impending diarrhea (colitis), small intestinal inflammation (enteritis), and gastric ulceration. Other diseases that may present clinical signs mimicking colic are also important to recognize and may include myositis (tying-up), liver or urinary tract disease, and some neurological diseases. Because different diseases require different treatments, access to comprehensive diagnostic capabilities found in a 24/7 hospital benefit the equine patient tremendously.

Hospitalized horse receiving 24/7 monitoring and care.

Fluid therapy to correct dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities, antibiotic therapy if infection is suspected, anti-inflammatory therapy, and pain management are mainstay treatments. When indicated, prokinetic medications to promote gastrointestinal motility and measures to reduce the risk of laminitis and other potential complications are employed. Other medical conditions that resemble colic, but require different therapies, can be identified and treated accordingly.

Critically ill horses benefit from a rapid and accurate diagnosis and specific treatment of the underlying disease. Our veterinarians, and our highly-skilled veterinary technicians and veterinary nurses work together, with you and your veterinarian, to provide 24/7 hospital care so that the best possible outcome can be achieved.

For information on our new financing option for emergency services, contact Cathy Duerbeck at 703-771-6800

(sponsored content; originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of The Equiery)
The Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center (EMC) is a premier, full-service equine health facility conveniently located at Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia. As an integral part of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and Virginia Tech, the EMC offers an array of cutting-edge diagnostic and therapeutic technologies and veterinary expertise to provide innovative and cost-effective care for your horse. The EMC offers a broad range of general and advanced specialty services by appointment as well as comprehensive 24/7 emergency services. State of the art technology with cutting-edge expertise…
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