Colic surgery or not? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 05-17-2010, 09:39 PM Thread Starter
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Post Colic surgery or not?

How many of you have elected to have colic surgery on your horse? What was the outcome? Would you do it again? Did your horse have complications or had reoccurring colic episodes after surgery? I ask because recently I had to put my mare down because she would not have survived without surgery (large colon displacement). She was 18 yr. old and the vet said it was the right decision but still you second guess yourself.
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post #2 of 11 Old 05-17-2010, 09:44 PM
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I honestly do not know of any horse but one that survived colic surgery. The one that I do know is about 8 months into recovery and still having frequent issues. He is no where near out of the woods yet. Our friends had colic surgery on their 9 year old mare just two months ago. Exactly three weeks later, she was gone. It's definately a personal decision, but you did what was best. Unfortunately, there is no right or wrong answer, but you can only do what you think is the right thing. So very sorry for your loss but it sounds as though you did the right thing for your girl.

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post #3 of 11 Old 05-17-2010, 09:51 PM
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The risks of colic surgery are pretty great. Especially as the horse gets older. There are many vets that won't even operate on horses over a certain age (usually around 15 unless the circumstances are different).

There is a person that I know whos dressage horse has had two colic surgeries. He is on a special diet, has ulcers, and is on constant colic watch. It's no way to live.

My friend had to make a similar decision about her 14 year old TB mare (I used to own her, was still very attached) and decided that the best decision was to let her go. It was totally the right decision for the horse.

I absolutely think you did the right thing for your girl and I'm very sorry for your loss.

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post #4 of 11 Old 05-17-2010, 09:52 PM
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I personally wouldnt do colic surgery, Its just such a long recovery, so much money, not enough chance they will come out ok. I would just end the suffering, and put them down. My neighbours horse got colic surgery, and it went perfectly. But personally i jsut wouldnt put my hrose through that, just to let them die in the end, or suffer through recovery :/
but its a personal choice :)

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post #5 of 11 Old 05-17-2010, 11:12 PM
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I know a 32 year old mare who went through colic surgery three or four years ago, and she's absolutely THRIVING.

That being said, I think it has a lot to do with the kind of colic [colic being a broad term for stomach/intestine upset] and the health level of the horse. I'm not sure the kind of colic this mare had, but it worked.

I also knew of an older stud, 20 if that, that got impaction colic from sand, and the vet didn't even recommend surgery from what I heard.

I'm sorry for your loss, and generally, it is far, far kinder to let a horse go than to keep it around for any possible sufferings. Don't second guess yourself, it won't help anything, and it won't make you feel better. You're vet told you he didn't think surgery would be wise, and they don't sugar-coat or make rainbows and butterflies out of bad news.

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Last edited by riccil0ve; 05-17-2010 at 11:19 PM.
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post #6 of 11 Old 05-17-2010, 11:18 PM
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Each case needs to be assessed individually as there are many different causes to surgical colic, all with different potential complications and costs. Simple displacements generally have the least complications and best outcomes, where strangulating lesions requiring resection have the most complications post-op.

The horses age, duration of colic, and any complicating factors should be considered. In the current economy, financial considerations need also be taken into account. A simple displacement surgery may run 4-5k, where a small intestinal resection may run into 15-20k. Your veterinarian should make you aware of what you are looking at financially along the way. Generally there are various decision making times. The first is when we can not control the pain medically and the decision to go to surgery is made (based on clinical findings). Second, is when actually on the table and determine what the cause of the colic is. Third is the 24-48 hours post surgery.

It's difficult to decide when and when not to go to surgery with a colic, and each case needs to be decided on an individual account.
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post #7 of 11 Old 05-17-2010, 11:27 PM
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As for my own experiences with colic surgery, i have known 4 horses to have it and they all came out great; 3 were displacements and one required resction. All were under 5 years old and all returned to successful racing careers. The resection was actually a yearling with a huge pricetag. These horses were earners so it made the bill from the university a little easier to swallow.

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post #8 of 11 Old 05-18-2010, 12:17 AM
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I would not have the surgery done for one of my horses. First, I could replace any one of my horses for much less than a colic surgery. Second the surgery puts the horse in alot of pain and may or may not live through it. Horses get sick and die that's life. I would probably put it down and end it's suffering rather than try to string it along and squeeze a few more years. It would depend though on if the horse was a money earner and the age of the horse. I would also take into account the frequency of the colic before the horse needed surgery. If the horse had been a colicer for a long time I wouldn't do the surgery but if the horse was young, valuable and not a chronic colicer then I may consider it.

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post #9 of 11 Old 05-18-2010, 01:24 AM
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I had one horse that had surgery for sand colic. The great guys at OSU removed a 90 pound impaction while listening to Metallica. My mom (who's an emergency department doctor) got a big kick out of watching the vet do the surgery to that particular music.

Gee, I just had I thought. I wonder if he was playing "Enter Sandman".

@ fltrailrider, I am very sorry for your loss. Whether it was best for the horse or not, it still hurts to lose them. Based on your post, I'm sure that you did what was right for your horse.

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post #10 of 11 Old 05-18-2010, 08:37 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for your advice and thoughts
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