Between four and ten percent of horses will experience colic, which can be fatal, during their lifetime.
In many cases, a horse can be treated for colic using non-surgical methods. However, in some instances, surgery is the only hope of survival.
Whether or not to treat a horse surgically for colic is a difficult decision. Stress on the horse, postoperative life and performance, probability of recurrence, and expense all factor into the question of whether or not to operate.
However, a recent study funded by Morris Animal Foundation could shed some light on the colic surgery dilemma.
In the study, researchers followed 236 horses that underwent colic surgery between 2006-2012. They evaluated long-term outcomes based on owner satisfaction and patient performance after surgery.
The team discovered that, of the horses that survived the surgery and were eventually discharged from the veterinary hospital (146), 83.7% were able to resume their previous or intended activity, and 78.5% returned to a level of performance on par with or higher than their pre-surgical best.
As far as owner satisfaction was concerned, the researchers found that 96.3% of owners were satisfied with the care their horses received, and that a whopping 98.5% assessed their horses' postoperative recovery as satisfactory or better.
According to researcher Dr. Isa Immonen of the University of Helsinki:
"We felt that defining the factors affecting the prognosis and post-operative performance could give answers that would help both the owners and the veterinarians in the decision-making process - whether to operate or not - especially when focusing on the meaningful long-term life and use of the horse after colic surgery."
This research was made possible by the Morris Animal Foundation's Veterinary Student Scholar program. The grant-based program is open to veterinary students across the globe and aims to involve them in mentored research that improves the health and welfare of animals.
You can check out the study here.
What do you think of this research? Let us know in the comments section below!
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