Geriatric Colic Surgery: Factors to Consider

Here are some factors to consider before sending your senior horse into surgery. Learn more in the March 2022 issue of The Horse.
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Geriatric Colic Surgery: Factors to Consider
The postoperative period is critical for older horses undergoing colic surgery. | Photo: iStock

As equine care has evolved, the proportion of senior horses—those 16 or older—within the population has grown. While transitioning your horse from a successful performance career to a well-deserved retirement can be straightforward and satisfying, medical decision-making can begin to feel more ­complicated during this stage. In two large studies gastrointestinal (GI) disease was the most common reason for admission to a referral hospital, with colic being the major cause.

Colic is stressful for any owner, especially when trying to decide whether to send a horse to colic surgery—a decision that can become more complex as your horse ages. To help you with this difficult choice, here are considerations to discuss with your veterinarian

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We at The Horse work to provide you with the latest and most reliable news and information on equine health, care, management, and welfare through our magazine and Our explanatory journalism provides an understandable resource on important and sometimes complex health issues. Your subscription will help The Horse continue to offer this vital resource to horse owners of all breeds, disciplines, and experience levels.


Written by:

Emily Hellstrom, DVM, is a graduate research assistant and PhD candidate in North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, in Raleigh.

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