Abdominal pain in foals (Proceedings)
Oct 01, 2008
CVC IN SAN DIEGO PROCEEDINGS
During the first 6 to 24 hours of age, congenital atresia of the colon, rectum, anus or meconium impactions are the most frequent causes of colic. In paint foals that are primarily white and whose dam and sire are overo are at risk for ileocolonic aganglionosis. Meconium is composed of glandular secretions from the gastrointestinal tract, amnionic fluid and cellular debris, which should be passed by 24-36 hours of age. In utero sepsis with associated hypoglycemia and sympathomimetic release can have bowel hypomotility and be at high risk for meconium impactions. Meconium impactions are more common in colts because of their narrow pelvic canal. The diagnosis of meconium impactions can be achieved by contrast radiographs, abdominal ultrasonography and/or proctoscopy. If routine warm water enemas do not relieve the impaction then hyperosmolar solutions (Hypertonic saline 3-4ml/kg per rectum) or acetylcysteine retention enemas may be used. The acetycysteine enemas consists of mixing 200ml water, 8 grams of acetylcysteine powder, and 20 g of sodium bicarbonate. A well lubricated 12 or 14 Fr, cuffed Foley urinary catheter is introduced into the rectum and the cuff inflated. 200 ml of the retention enema solution is then slowly infused and the end of the catheter plugged. The catheter is then taped to the foal's tail and left in place for 15 minutes. These enemas can be repeated several times a day. If using the hypertonic solutions for more than 2 treatments in a 24-hour period the sodium status of the patient should be re-evaluated to prevent hypernatremia. Additional therapy includes fluids and laxatives (120 ml of mineral oil SID to BID and/or milk of magnesia 30ml PO QID). Analgesics , such as flunixin meglumine 1.1mg/kg IV SID and butorphanol tartrate 1-2mg IV/IM Q 4-12 hours, may also be necessary to help control the foal's discomfort. Older foals 2-5 days of age are more likely to be suffering from intussusceptions, ruptured bladders, enteritis, gastroduodenal ulceration, inguinal hernias and small intestinal volvulus.
Ultrasonography can be used to help diagnosis conditions that may be causing colic. Dynamically distended small intestine > 2.5cm in diameter with no motility and absence of gastric distention could be suggestive of a small intestinal volvulus. A large amount of peritoneal fluid with a history of infrequent urinations is suggestive of a ruptured bladder. Unfortunately severe abdominal pain is not pathognomonic for a surgical lesion. Tachycardia of excess of 120 beats per minute that is non-responsive to pain medication and in the absence of fever is suggestive of a surgical lesion.SMALL INTESTINAL OBSTRUCTION
Clinical signs of small intestinal obstruction may include severe colic signs, bruxism, reflux from nares (Most clients may think this is mucus), gastric and small intestinal distention. Laboratory findings are usually non specific with minimal electrolyte disturbances and dehydration secondary to compartmental fluid losses. Use of diagnostic ultrasound will reveal hypomotile loops of small intestine with diameters exceeding 2-3 cm. (Figure 1)
If no motility and edema is noted on the abdominal ultrasound examination then surgical exploration will be warranted.