colic surgery - how many have had success stories

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pam

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My three year old mare started showing signs of distress last week. Since she had an episode of ulcers as a weanling, the vet and I really felt it was ulcers, and treated her accordingly with gastoguard. However, she got worse on the second day. The vet tubed her, but she still showed signs of distress. I rushed her to Purdue, and she was tubed, scoped, x-rayed, and it was determined that she had blockage and needed surgery:( They told me that she would need to stay 5 days.

This morning was the 5th day, and she was perky, off med's, and the vets released her. I drove the two hour drive to pick her up, and the vet changed her mind. She said that she was not as "perky" as the a.m., and she wanted to keep her at least to more days. I asked to see her, and not being "perky" was an understatement. It was obvious that she was not doing well. I am so worried about her. They are going to put the IV's back in and it is now a waiting game.

This mare is my first baby, and I am heart sick about this. When I went into her stall today, she immediately laid her head in my lap and nuzzled me nonstop. I hated leaving her. She has lost a lot of wait, and it just tore me up to see her like this.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that she makes it, but I worry that she will never be completely right.
 

rabbitsfizz

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My Arab mare went through this- when I went to see her the next day, "not perky" did not cover it!!! I immediately discharged her- much to the alarm of the Vets, and took her home. She had far better care with me than she was getting there. She recovered fully, was back in foal in three months time and I also took her to the Arab Nationals as a celebration where, to my immense surprise, she won sixth in the Senior mare (she was NEVER a halter horse!!) she had two more foals for me without problems except she went a full twelve moths with the first one. Two years is the danger point- if they are not in foal you can lose them to lesions after two years, which is why she was in foal for this time- the expanding and the suddenly contracting, then expanding again womb would not allow lesions to form and so she survived unscathed. She had ten more years of happy, normal life. Then, overnight, her whole digestive system broke down and I had to put her down. Everyone was agreed that the op had been worth it, in spite of the eventual outcome- the life she had was totally normal right up to the day it all went pear shaped and even then she was in now real pain- no colic, just constant chronic diarrhoea. If you trust your Vets leave her where she is. Myself, I am ALWAYS suspicious and I would be making- as I did- an unscheduled call. Good Luck.
 

Dreamweaver

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I had one of my senior stallions go through a terrible colic & surgery. He had to very large impactions of hair, one in the small colon, one in the large colon. When they went in, they thought it was a simple twist. It wasn't until they opened him up that they found the impactions.

He stayed in OSU vet hospital for more that 30 days after the surgery. After about the 5th or 6th day, he spiked a MONSTER of a fever that lasted at least a week. It was very tough and go for at least two weeks. Because I lived about eight hours away, I was not able to stay with him. I could only call and check in on him several times a day.

Once I picked him up, he still was not himself for many months. It took a long time for him to recover, but he did. I can tell you that there are some lasting effects on his hind legs from being so spread out during the surgery, (he gets sore sometimes) but other than that, he is great.

It was quite an ordeal, but he...we made it through. Oh, he is only 30.5" tall and very small everywhere. The staff & vets were just amazed that he lived. They didn't tell me until after I had him home that they had only given him less that 5% chance to live after they found both the impactions. Colic surgery is hard enough when they cut through only once into the intestings...they cut him twice.

I hope your mare is feeling better soon. Best of luck! Dana
 

Becky

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I'm sure Viki will get on here and post, but her filly Breeze had colic surgery last October. It was touch and go for awhile, but today she is thriving and doing well.
 

Sue J

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My colic surgery did not have a happy ending either. An Appendix Quarter mare I had owned for 3 years. I watched the entire surgery and she didn't have an impaction, but a displaced colon. She was hospitalized for 10 days as she came down with an infection. She came home with a catheter where I was still giving shots, etc. After about a month she was doing well enough to go with us on a camping trip. She was to babysit a two year old. All ten trailers were at the barn ready to leave for the trip. I had the mare on cross ties and went to get my trailer. When I came back to her (5 mins.) she was soaked in a full body sweat. She had hemorridged and the vet felt it was at the incision area. She was in her grave within 1 1/2 hours.
 

SBrown

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We had a mare that colicked and needed emergency surgery. She did not respond at all to pain medications and was in extreme discomfort. We didn't know anything about the healthcare she had received since we had recently purchased her at an auction.

They operated and found she had 3 tapeworms in her cecum that joins the large and small intestines. The cecum had turned inside out and created a blockage that nothing could get through. They removed the damaged part of the cecum and re-attached her intestines. My husband was in the operating room and observed the whole operation, it was quite an ordeal. They gave her a 10% chance of recovery. She was at the clinic for almost 2 weeks before we brought her home. She had lost weight but was doing great.

When she colicked she was about 3 months pregnant. She carried to 7 months and then aborted. The umbilical cord was extremely twisted, the vet thought as a result of the stress of the surgery. She has gone on to have two more foals. We always keep a special eye on her but she is doing great. Here is a photo of her with her colt from this year.

 

Dona

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CockRobin had colic surgery at age 24.....and come thru it with no problems at all.

They found two tennis ball sized enteroliths lodged in his small colon. He wouldn't have had a chance without the surgery.
 

Jill

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In July of 2003, my then 11 month old buckskin filly, Khaki, had to have colic surgery. She went down with colic around 4pm. We had the vet out 3 times during the night but the last time was just to sedate her for the trip to the hospital around 12 midnight.

They did the surgery on Khaki about 2am. She had an impaction. BUT, I got a call the next day that they had to go back in that she was down, again, with colic. Apparently, there is a part of the intestine they would normally empty in big horses but in minis it is usually best not to. In Khaki's case, they needed to.

So, she actually had 2 colic surgeries and I was devastated because I thought one thing really working in her favor is that I got her to the hospital so quickly after her initial symptoms.

Anyway, Khaki's still here. She is kinda fat and very sassy and doesn't show any problems and has not had any colic since. At the time she colicked, she wasn't under my care and was at my trainers, but since coming home, I am SO picky about what Khaki can have to eat (no coarse hay is rule #1 here).

Khaki's now a 3yo mare and I recently discussed her with my vet who says she should be fine to breed now if I want, fine to teach to drive, fine to take out again and show (bought to be a show horse, and got one Grand before the surgery).

As I knock on wood, I would say Khaki is a colic surgery success story. I still have her over 2 years later and she seems to be in prime health and happiness.
 

Debby - LB

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[SIZE=14pt]My filly had colic surgery this year, was impacted with hair in 2 places, one cut into the the small colon and another in the large. She came through the surgery well, then had problems 2 days later and they had to go back in. More hair that was in the stomach was now trying to pass through. She stayed at UGA -her and her mom for 2 weeks and 3 days, it was all up and down, she spiked a fever on day 6. They kept her for an additional 3 days after they felt sure she was ready to come home. After the surgery I was told to either wean her or put her and her mom on the same diet since she can not have hay. [/SIZE]

Naturally I chose to put her and her mom on the same diet. She came home with her remaining doses of gastrogard and instructions to have blood drawn one a week to check for inflammation. Also instructions to stay on a grassy place and they are to eat Equine Senior 3 x a day, the brand they were on and have stayed on is Purina. Her mom also gets soaked alfalfa cubes put in a bucket she cannot reach and she looks so good on that food! Chickadee has done well but has colicked twice since then, the last time being this past thursday. I was told that after 4 months I could start to try giving her a little hay but I am even scared to wean her, although her mom is now starting to do it and I see her nurse rarely now.

Having this surgery done is a case by case decision and I know if faced with it again I will consider it, but I really doubt I would do it again. I love Chick dearly but the pain she suffered on the 2 1/2 hour drive to the university and the pain she has suffered since isn't worth it in my opinion.
 

Debby - LB

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[SIZE=14pt]I also wanted to ask Jane. I don't understand what you are saying about the lesions? What does the uterine contractions have to do with lesions forming at the sites where the colon was cut into? or is that not where they form? Do they form at the main incision under the belly or at the colon incisons? I was only told about them forming in the colon which would obstruct the flow of food. Also thank you for telling that there is a 2 year window for the lesions to form, I did not know that.[/SIZE]

Isn't there a way to see if there are any excess lesions (scar tissue) can't they run a scope or something up there like a colonoscopy? Why couldn't they?
 
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Viki

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[SIZE=14pt]My filly, Breeze, had a VERY extensive colic surgery as a weanling! She was just 6 months old. Long story shorter, they rerouted A LOT of her intestines! It was touch and go for a very long time....MONTHS.[/SIZE]

Now, nearly a year later, she is showing, eating normal diet and you really cant tell anything EVER was wrong with her!

During her recovery, I did make the decision, I think 3 times, to put her down if not better by morning. I'm so glad it never came to that! She did have ulcers after surgery also. She got rail thin also. She had several trips back to the hospital, tests, and another couple day stay during recovery.

You sure wouldn't know it now though! Seeing her run with the other horses is truly a beautiful sight! Her's is truly a success story, but it was a long time coming.

Hang in there.

My Breeze has no limits on her now. She loves to show and is safe to breed someday!

Viki

Breeze's surgeon said the milestones are 6 months, 1 year & 2 years. He said once you hit the 2 year mark, your in the clear on the lesions thing.
 
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Jill

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Viki said:
[SIZE=14pt]...[/SIZE]
Breeze's surgeon said the milestones are 6 months, 1 year & 2 years.  He said once you hit the 2 year mark, your in the clear on the lesions thing.

461336[/snapback]

Viki --

That makes me feel so good to hear someone say that! In my own mind, I felt that two years would be a milestone if Khaki made it (now is at 26 mos out!) and it's very good to read what you wrote!!!

Jill
 

Debby - LB

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[SIZE=14pt]Vikki at what times in her recovery did you have the problems, what symptoms did she have, and what did you have to do to get her past it?[/SIZE]
 

Viki

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[SIZE=14pt]Debbie,[/SIZE]

A lot of it is a blur now. Becky can correct me though! She was VERY involved with the whole ordeal! It was her quick action that saved Breeze's life. She was at hospital within a very short time of onset. Becky was her trainer and life saver!

Breeze was back at Becky's when released from hospital as I had a surgery of my own to do! Ugh

Anyway, I believe she was back just a day or two when pain was evident. Changed her diet (vet FORGOT to tell us NO HAY). For about 2 months after surgery, she would be fine one day, then in pain and depressed for 2 or 3. When we finally started her on ulcer meds and took away hay, she steadily improved.

Viki

Pain episodes: Lay down, not responsive when you went into the stall, just laid there. Would roll up on her back, refuse food. We used a LITTLE banamine and that would ease the pain.
 
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Jill

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I remember reading about the ups and downs of Breeze' recovery. Thank goodness she came out of it okay. It was impossible for me to read about her and not remember how it was for Khaki, and mostly how it was for ME worrying about Khaki. These horses really give us PLENTY to think and worry about if we let ourselves.
 

Viki

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Jill,

Thanks for remembering Breeze! It was really a hard time! You just wouldnt believe her now!

I still feed a lot of beet pulp, but she is on hay now and gets turned out on pasture 3 hours a day.

Would someone post a pic of her now for me?


Viki
 

pam

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Vicki - What kind of diet did they put your horse on???

When I went to visit my filly last night, I read her discharge papers, and the instructions said to give her only 1/4 flake of grass hay 4-6 times a day and nothing else???? The only grass hay that I have is pretty course, so I was trying to find some hay just for her return. Now you stated "no hay," and I am worried. The other suggestion was to be on Sand Clear one week out of the month.

I would appreciate hearing from others about the special diet that you put your horses on after surgery.

My mare had a "fecalith" (sp?) and they said they found hair and some sand. This blows me away as I clip my horses twice a year to help with shedding and my dirt is not very sandy. They are kept on a dry lot most of the time, but do have access to thick pasture a couple of hours a day.

I guess what blows my mind is that I know several people who just do the minimum to take care of their horses and don't seem to have visits to the vet clinics, and I am so careful but still end up with scares..... My husband pointed out that these people still have similar problems but:

1. They never talk of any health issues with their horses and doctor their horses on their own - and no usually appropriately.

2. The only time they do call a vet is when things are too late, and then they blame the vet for the horse dying.

3. Just let the horse fend for themselves and the strong ones live, and the ones with problems are lost.

Our miniatures are like grandchildren to us - we love them dearly, but I had and still have really bad feelings about this colic surgery. I am even more worried now, as she is not doing well and I am worried about infections, absesses, additional colics, lesions, and hyperlidemia. I did not get much sleep last night, and as you can tell my post, I am extremely worried and suspect my baby will never be right.

As you can tell by my post and the number of times that I have used the word "worry," I am just very upset about my mare.

Pam
 

wcr

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I had a colt colic this past February and ended up taking him to OSU for colic surgery which was unsuccessful. He was such a trooper and fighter that I had to give him a chance and after all it was only money and I can make more. He ended up having 5 major problems and the vets kept coming out and saying if anything goes wrong we're done. He had an impaction, enterolith, torn a hole in his mesentery which the large intestine had become entraped and torsed his cecum. I watched the whole surgery and they really worked on him. Being a medical person I know what good and bad care is and the care he received was outstanding. I have the highest regards for the team that worked on him and am happy that I have medical services of this quality available if I need them. That said, I probably wouldn't put another horse through this again. Mo died about 4 hours after surgery and that was enough pain and suffering not to say months and years of recovery had he survived.
 

Viki

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[SIZE=14pt]Pam, hang in there.[/SIZE]

Breeze was on LOTS of soaked beet pulp, alfalfa pellets, crimped oats, Progressive Diet Balancer (for alfalfa) and Fastrack (powder probias). At first she refused the beet pulp but I melted peppermint candies in it and she liked that!
Now she eats it without the candy. I found out that horses CAN live on beet pulp and no hay for nearly a year!

One thing I think was REALLY important in her recovery.....NO BEDDING! She would eat it (because of no hay I think) and THAT would cause pain episodes and eventually would have caused another colic!

Now she gets less soaked beet pulp, no Fastrack, crimped oats and about a half flake of hay, twice a day.

I know the stress of them coming home after surgery. You worry about EVERYTHING. You will be fine. Keep banamine on hand just in case of a pain episode!

Viki
 

pam

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Just got a call from Purdue - my mare is doing a little better and passed good manure last night. We are hoping yesterday was just a little bump in the road and she is on the road to recovery.

I am hopeful that things will continue to improve.....
 

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