We are currently not performing colic surgery.

Twisted small instestine or “Twisted Gut”

What is colic? (Definition)

Refers to abdominal pain that often results from GI tract disease

Causes of pain

  • Distention (gas)
  • Twisting
  • Ischemia (lack of blood supply to the gut)
  • Inflammation


  • Colic is the number 2 cause of death in horses
  • Natural causes is number 1 cause of death in horses
  • Estimate incidence: 4.2 colics/100 horses/year
  • Overall cost of colic: A USDA Equine Study showed approximately $115 million in 1998

Signs of Colic

  • Nonspecific signs
  • Inappetance (lack of appetite)
  • Looking at side
  • Rolling lip
  • Stretching/ straining
  • Pawing
  • Lying down
  • Rolling
  • Violently thrashing

Horse Stretching / Straining

Horse Looking at Side

Horse Rolling / Thrashing

Patient on IV Fluids

Indications for referral to surgical facility

  • Frequent monitoring
  • Second opinion
  • Intensive medical management
    • E.g. Gastric reflux, IV fluids, medications
  • Patient is not responding to routine treatment
  • Pain not responsive
    • Analgesics & sedatives
  • Changes
    • Rectal exam
    • Physical examinations
  • Remote locations/No surgical facility in closer proximity
  • Surgery is required

What you need to do when referring your horse for colic treatment:

  • Inform situation & obtain permission for referral from owner or agent
    • General cost estimate (costs may vary)
      • Medical: $2,500-5,000
      • Surgical: $6,000-12,000
  • Be prepared to leave a deposit at admission
  • Inform of the procedures to expect upon arrival
  • The owner of the horse should contact their insurance company

Dr. Bueno performing Colic Surgery at SSEC

Colic Surgery:

  • In general, uncomplicated surgeries that do not need bowel resection (bowel is not damaged)
    • Such as displacements, impactions, enteroliths (stones)
    • Carry a better prognosis for recovery and return to performance
    • They usually go home in 5-7days

CLICK HERE to read about Colic Prevention & learn 10 Tips for Preventing Colic