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Tarvas Munkee 01-06-2008 02:56 AM

colic surgery
hey guys-
i'm new to the forum and would like to say hi to all first off. secondly, for those of your as unfortunate as I to be in the position of having a horse need colic surgery, has anyone experienced this dilemma, and if so, what sounds like the outcome? Here we go:

My 14 y/o warmblood gelding colicked last week, I went out to feed about 5:30 a/m last thursday morning, and he was at the bottom corner of the pasture, and didn't come in. Red Flag! This is a boy that eats every last drop, and then some. He's always waiting at the barn w/ bells on. Anyway, I knew something was wrong. He is kind of a belly-ache prone horse, but usually nothing some banemine can't handle. I went and got him put up and knew I was right, he was curling his lip and looking at his belly, typical signs as we all know all too well, right?

I ran into the house, got some banemine and got some ace. I gave him 1 1/2 cc's of Ace via I.V. and 10 cc's banemine via I.V. He acted as though he wanted to walk, so I hand walked him for a few minutes (nowadays vets say it's not necessarily good to let them walk, believe it or not as you all may know) anyway, then I stopped him and took a look at him, the ace had obviously kicked in, he was kind of tipsy. He still acted uncomfortable, though, which I kind of thought was odd, the banemine should have started kicking in, but maybe not. After an hour more, he wasn't better, in fact he was showing more signs of pain. My heart sunk. I knew when the banemine didn't help him whatsoever, I was in trouble. big trouble.

I immediately proceeded to call the clinic (fortunately, the best vet clinic around is only 2 miles from my house), and they sent an intern vet out to evaluate him. We palpated him and did the nasogastric tube. Palpating was rather difficult, and he could feel something in the way. However, he was passing gas and passed some manure. Either way, he needed to get to the clinic. At this point, poor D (D meaning Dawson, the horses name), was literally shaking. It wasn't that cold out, and he had a blanket on. It was then my heart sunk further, I realized he was shaking b/c he was in so much pain, i'd never seen anything like it.

Anyway, I took him up to the clinic and the surgeon palpated him and ultra-sounded, meanwhile he passed another pile of manure. How deceiving that was! On the ultra-sound, they couldn't see the kidney thru the spleen. that was our answer. He obviously was suffering from a nephrosplenic entrapment. (aka-left dorsal displacment), where the large colon gets looped over the spleen and sits between the spleen and kidney. They keep him there and started him on IV's, and said they were going to give him a medication (can't recall the name right now) that contracts the spleen and then they lunge him, and try to get the colon to bounce back over into place. A few hours later, the intern called and said that they did all that, and that the got it to bounce 1/2 way over, and that it was sitting between the spleen and the body wall. "we've made progress, but we're not out of the woods yet"-were his exact words. I knew we were still in trouble. He then told me that in a few hrs they were re-try the same method for one last time.

Around 7 a.m., the surgeon himself called. He said they were about to palpate and re ultra-sound him and see where they were at, but he was still in a lot of pain. He called back about 15 minutes later saying that not only was it not fixed, but that it has re-looped itself back over the spleen, and they needed to head into surgery then. I hustled up there and when I got there, they had just opened him up! They had already had him headed into the surgery room when the surgeon called me. (I had pre-requested they do whatever is needed, in case they couldn't get a hold of me, don't waste time just do it) Anyway, I actually got to watch the entire procedure (pretty fascinating, just not so cool when it's your own horse. They have them covered up, so I couldn't tell it was him, which was probably the only reason I could watch) It was very fast and went sucessfully. None of the intestines were harmed, nor the colon, we got it in time. Great news. it was just as they thought, the colon needed to manually be brought back in place. (Btw, this is all cause by gas build-up pushing the colon up and over, and also why it couldn't get back down).

He came out of recovery well but depressed. As a few days went by, everything went well, and the intern called about sunday evening saying they were requesting the surgeon allow them to discontinue IV's and take him out of ICU, then monday they would start to re-introduce food and water slowly. All went well until about Tuesday morning he wasn't really eating and acting very depressed and uncomfortable. They ended up putting him back in ICU on IV's and eventually treating him for ulcers as well as anterior enteritis (inflammation of the small intestine). He was refluxing a LOT of liquid that was sitting in his stomach and small intestine. He was also having severe diarreah (that's normal right after surgery, but he shouldn't have still had it). He was refluxed every 2-3 hrs for about 36 hrs until he stopped this Thursday. At that point (thursday, a few days ago) he started showing some improving signs again, he actually pricked his ears when I walked in, and even rubbed on me! Later that day, he rubbed on the vets as well and nickered to a few horses, also coming to the stall door when people walked up. They removed the nasal-gastric tube and muzzle, and let him have 3 sips of water. He also continued to have his hand walks and got turned out in the round pen for an hour (they said he thoroughly enjoyed that).

Friday, I came by the clinic around 11:30 a.m., and it was about time for his first walk, so they let me take him out! Yay! I took him outside for about 20 minutes and he was NOT happy about going back to the barn (They warned me of that). They said he got water that morning and a handful of hay, and he gobbled it up. (before I took him for his walk, the intern and i talked in the stall and he was curling his lip a little and looking at his belly, but they said that's normal and he'd just gotten water so that's more than likely why, but all week he'd done that, after all, he had major belly surgery, but then again, he should've been home by then) anyway, when we got back inside, the surgeon was waiting at his stall and said they were hoping to not re-apply his IV's when he got back in from his walk, and try to wean him back to food and water and see how it goes.

As we talked in his stall for a few minutes, D started curling his lip again and looking at his belly, so I asked the surgeon as well "is this normal?" he said "yea, and we'd just given him water before he went out, that's probably why." We talked for another minute or two in the stall and D began to show more signs of being uncomfortable. He started stretching, curling his lip, pawing, etc, etc. We both looked at each other at the same time, I again said "ok, he's definitely showing more signs, that can't be right" and the vet sedated him and got him a pain reliever, and of course, re-applied the IV's. We all looked at him with our heads cocked, and even the surgeon said "I don't know why this animal is still so uncomfortable". They hoped he was just kind of having a harder-than-normal reaction to the water intake, but that's where we are at now. It's been 10 almost 11 days since surgery, this is nuts. I'm getting very nervous that he's not going to turn the corner here soon. Has anyone else had this experience? Sorry this is so long btw, but I thought the little details were needed for a full description. I just pray he turns the corner here very soon. Other than this incident he's a very healthy horse, and he handles a lot of pain. Even the surgeon told me that in surgery he said "this horse is one tough boy, his heart rate elevated to 60. Most horses would be down thrashing around at that point, he just stood there shaky". as any of you know it's a very hard and heart-wrenching experience. Any advice is appreciated.

jofielder7 01-06-2008 05:59 PM

I'm so sorry for the pain this must be causing you, Tarvas Munkee (and D too).

I, unfortunately don't have any advice for you as this is now a very serious issue that probably only a vet/surgeon (and maybe not all of them) can help you with.

I did have a horse colic once and I was there to watch the surgery as well. It was fascinating. I have always wanted to be an equine surgeon after that experience because it was such an amzing procedure. As I reacall it was a long road to recovery, but 10-11 days is extensive.

I wish you the best of and D are in my thoughts.

Tarvas Munkee 01-09-2008 02:02 AM

thanks jo-
your right, it's a hard experience. The surgery was fascinating, and probably the only reason I could watch it on my own horse, was b/c they had him completely covered to where I couldn't tell it was him b/c I couldn't see any of him (you know what I mean). And you're right, it's an extensive re-coop period, but he should've been home last week, it's devastating. The vet bill will be even more devastating! As long as he comes home, no money can replace him. He's under the best surgeons around, so I have all the confidence in the world in them. Today was a sigh of relief, it was the best i've seen him yet. However, still somewhat uncomfortable, and still water dierreah. Although, the surgeon said earlier in the day he has almost normal stool, so it's a little progress. Little is better than none. Thanks for your kind thoughts.

jofielder7 01-09-2008 10:03 AM

Please give us some updates on how he's doing. It will please me to know when he's back home with you as that means he's mostly out of the woods.

I'm also interested to know what the vet thinks is the hold up on a faster recovery? Age? 14 doesn't seem that old. Anyway, I'd be interested in the details if you have the time/energy to post them.

Take care!

G and K's Mom 01-11-2008 01:41 PM

Two years ago our younger one twisted a gut and had surgery. I must say your vet does things differently than ours did, not saying it's wrong, just different.

He was in the hospital for a week and on stall rest for 3 months. There was no hand walking - nothing! Last thing you want is a rupture on top of what he just went thru. The most we could do was to move him from one stall to another for cleaning. His poops were cow pies for almost 6 months to the day. Our vet said it's normal and some never do have really nice road apples again.

He had his ups and downs for the first couple of weeks. We kept a log card out in the barn and checked vitals four times per day (at each feeding) and recorded them on his card. This way we could spot a problem that could be brewing right away.

He had some depressed days, and on those days we spent more time with him. It took a good three weeks before he seemed to be feeling more like himself.

Sure hope your guy turns the corner. Good healing thoughts being sent your way.

Tarvas Munkee 01-14-2008 01:12 AM

Thank you guys very much for your support, but unfortunately i'm writing to tell you my baby didn't make it. On Friday afternoon, he went from much improved, to taking a turn for the worst. We had to put him down. I've had to put horses down before, and seen a lot, but nothing like putting your own baby, your first horse, down. He was the world to me, and still is, and it's definitely the hardest thing i've been through. I've lost loved ones, and nothing compares to this.

I had them do an autopsy, and he had the infection blotches ever 2-3 inches on his intestine wall... basically he was one of the less-than 5% of horses post-colic op. that suffer this. More-or-less, his gut just never would go back to normal, causing severe diarreah, subsequently causing severe damage to the intestines. He also had tons of fluid build up again and it was getting thru to his stomach. It was a mess, his body ate him alive for 2 weeks and he fought so hard for it. The worst part is how well he was doing the last 4 or so days before I lost him. Thanks again for your kind words and advice.

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