Nephrosplenic Entrapment Treatment, Recurrence, and Survival

Survival rates were high, and a surgical procedure could help prevent recurrence of this type of colic.
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If you’re faced with the difficult decision of whether to continue potentially unsuccessful therapy on a colicky horse or opt for euthanasia, it might help to know how often, on average, horses recover from and how long they survive following treatment, and whether the colic is likely to recur. While these statistics are available for some types of colic, researchers are still working to elucidate them for others.

Recently, a team from Colorado State University (CSU) recently took a closer look at the treatments, survival rates, preventive measures, and recurrence rates for one type of colic—nephrosplenic entrapment (or NSE). PhD candidate Brad Nelson, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, presented the results at the 2015 American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Convention, held Dec. 5-9 in Las Vegas.

Nephrosplenic entrapment occurs when the large colon migrates between the spleen and the abdominal wall and becomes trapped over the nephrosplenic ligament (which attaches the spleen to the left kidney). Affected horses generally display mild to moderate colic signs, and veterinarians diagnose NSE using rectal palpation, abdominal ultrasound, laparoscopy, or celiotomy (exploratory colic surgery).

Nelson said veterinarians can treat the condition medically or surgically. Medical options include fluid therapy, phenylephrine administration (a vasoactive drug that induces contraction of the spleen, making room for the colon to dislodge from the nephrosplenic space), longeing, and/or rolling under general anesthesia

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Written by:

Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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