Approaches to Managing Equine Postoperative Ileus Studied

With multiple approaches to handling ileus, one vet thinks a firm definition of the condition could help outcomes.

No account yet? Register


In human medicine, doctors must follow specific guidelines before recommending a procedure or treatment. Though not without controversy, this at least provides clear-cut standards for proceeding.

“In veterinary medicine, veterinarians can basically do whatever they deem necessary to increase the chances of survival and/or recovery,” said Anthony Blikslager, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, a professor of equine surgery and gastroenterology at North Carolina State University, in Raleigh.

This can be problematic in treating syndromes such as equine postoperative ileus (POI); Blicklslager recently researched clinical features and management techniques for this ailment. Horses coming out of abdominal surgery are at risk of reduced gastrointestinal tract motility. This is most challenging in the small intestine. When the small intestine doesn’t work properly, fluid backs up into the horse’s stomach. Because horses can’t vomit, they can experience a painful, distended stomach.

The challenge is defining POI. Most commonly, a veterinarian will pass a nasal tube when a horse shows signs of pain or an increased heart rate after surgery. The volume of fluid present determines whether a horse has POI. However, veterinarians don’t always agree on the amount of fluid that correlates with a POI diagnosis

Create a free account with to view this content. is home to thousands of free articles about horse health care. In order to access some of our exclusive free content, you must be signed into

Start your free account today!

Already have an account?
and continue reading.


Written by:

Katie Navarra has worked as a freelance writer since 2001. A lifelong horse lover, she owns and enjoys competing a dun Quarter Horse mare.

Related Articles

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with

FREE weekly newsletters from

Sponsored Content

Weekly Poll

sponsored by:

Has your veterinarian used SAA testing for your horse(s)?
0 votes · 0 answers

Readers’ Most Popular

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Register for a FREE account here.

Need to update your account?

You need to be logged in to fill out this form

Create a free account with!