Equine Veterinary Education, vol.34, no.9, pp.467-472, 2022 (SCI-Expanded)
© 2021 EVJ Ltd.The aim of our retrospective study was to produce and analyse epidemiological data on gastrointestinal (GI) disorders of Austrian leisure horses. Case records of horses referred to the Equine Clinic of the Veterinary University of Vienna were collected from an electronic hospital information system using its search options. All cases reported to have suffered a GI disorder between March 2003 and February 2015 were selected. In this period of 4314 days, data of 1833 GI cases, mostly accompanied by colic signs, were analysed. The vast majority of our GI cases appeared in the abdominal parts of the GI tract 96% (1760/1833) while just 1.3% (24/1833) could be definitively attributed to oesophageal disorders, whereas in 2.7% (49/1833) of the cases a definitive diagnosis could not be made. The highest prevalence of GI disorders was seen in July and October/November. A breakdown of figures for cases clustered under the colic syndrome showed that colon impactions in left ventral large and/or pelvic flexure (35%) were the major problem followed by gastric disorders (18%), spasmodic colic (9%), enteritis (7%), caecal tympany (6%); caecal impaction (4%), colitis (3%), abnormal anatomical positions of large colon including complete and partial strangulation/volvulus, nephrosplenic entrapment of the left ventral and dorsal colon and right dorsal displacement of the large colon (3%) and small intestinal volvulus (2.7%). In 12% of the cases, the cause of the abdominal discomfort was likely idiopathic paralytic ileus. The searching tool of the electronic patient data also brought up cases with malabsorbtion/IBD syndrome and GI ruptures, both these contributed less than 1% of the referred GI cases. Results suggested that the causes of colic are diverse, but the major reasons for referred cases of colic in the east Austrian horse population are large colon impaction or displacements. Seasonal distribution and specific causes of gastrointestinal disorders should be considered essential components of the initial clinical assessment of horses presenting with colic.