Study: Horses With Sand Colic Have ‘Excellent’ Prognosis
Sand accumulation in the large colon occurs relatively frequently in regions with naturally sandy soils, including California, Texas, and Florida. Affected horses, who consume sand inadvertently while grazing or eating off the ground, can develop gastrointestinal tract obstructions, intestinal tract lining irritation, altered gut motility, weight loss, diarrhea, and overt colic.
If a practitioner suspects sand colic, Kilcoyne recommended that, in addition to a standard colic workup, he or she take radiographs to help confirm sand in the gut and quantify how much has accumulated. This is because listening to the abdomen’s oceanlike sounds using a stethoscope (a traditional method of diagnosing sand accumulation) and measuring fecal sedimentation are only effective in approximately 20% of cases, she cautioned.
With a positive diagnosis, the veterinarian can discuss treatment options—either medical or surgical—with the owner. Kilcoyne said one of the key factors veterinarians should consider when selecting their approach is how much gas has built up in the abdomen, based on radiographs and transrectal palpation
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