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Despite fantastic improvements in our ability to treat colic in horses in the last 20 years it is still one of the biggest killers of horses of all ages!  It is no wonder that owners are concerned when a horse gets colic. Troytown Grey Abbey Equine Hospital is a major centre for referral of horses with colic (acute abdominal emergencies) and we treat over 300 colic cases each year.


Only approximately 1 horse in every 20 cases of colic actually requires surgery. Most horses with colic respond to medical treatment with pain-killers, anti-inflammatories and drugs which reduce the spasm of the intestines which can be associated with the colic.  It is important that those horses that are suffering from a more severe type of colic are identified as soon as possible.  Poor response to initial treatment with pain-killers is an indicator that a more serious problem may be present.  Early surgical intervention will give these horses the best possible chance of survival.

Troytown Grey Abbey Equine Hospital uses the best possible diagnostic tests to assess a horse with colic in order to determine if surgery is necessary. Medical treatment may be an option in many instances and this will be discussed in each individual circumstance.


Advances in medical and surgical treatment over the last decades has meant that the chances of a horse undergoing a full recovery following colic surgery is now good. Our retrospective study showed that 3 of 4 horses that underwent colic surgery survived to lead normal productive lives.


Prevention of colic is one of the aims of good horse management - but it is important to realise that it is impossible to totally eradicate colic. However, good management should involve minimizing dietary changes and ensuring any changes are introduced in a gradual manner. Regular worming schedules are important, with particular attention being paid to treatment of tapeworms in the autumn, since tapeworms have been shown to be an important, and until relatively recently, overlooked cause of colic.

Atresia Coli in a Neonate

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