Report from Meg Puckett, Herd Manager
Last Thursday morning we noticed that Junior was acting a bit colicky. Colic in horses can be caused by any number of things, from stress to gas, bad feed, secondary to another issue, or just about anything in between. Luckily our vet was right around the corner, and already on his way to us for a previously scheduled, non-emergency appointment. When he arrived at the farm he immediately began to treat Junior for colic, which included a rectal exam to check for any blockages or twists in his intestines (neither of which were found), administering pain medication, and giving him fluids through a nasal tube. Junior responded somewhat well to treatment, but within a couple hours was displaying signs of being uncomfortable again. At that point our vet referred us to the hospital at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
We arrived at the hospital around 5:30pm where Junior was admitted and vets worked through the night to stabilize him and try to figure out what exactly was causing the colic. Friday morning they scoped him and found a section of his small intestine that was highly inflamed, and fluid that was collected indicated a very high white blood cell count. Junior was taken into surgery Friday afternoon where vets discovered he had strangulating lipoma. This is when a fatty cyst attaches to the intestine and damages it. The surgeons were able to remove several feet of damaged intestine and repair what was left, perform an abdominal lavage, and administer medication directly into the affected site. Junior did really well during surgery and while recovering from anesthesia.
The days immediately following surgery have been difficult, but Junior has been slowly heading in the right direction. He still has an abdominal drain inserted and is on antibiotics, but yesterday he was taken off IV fluids and pain medication and has handled that well so far. He’s eating a small amount, and the vets hope to increase his food intake little by little every day. Overall he is doing as good as anyone could hope for, but he is still in critical condition. We anticipate at least a ten day hospital stay for him, and then four to five months of recovery at home before he’ll be able to resume a somewhat normal life. He will live with an increased risk of colic and the formation of lesions on his intestines, but all of that is a bridge we will cross when we come to it. For right now we are taking things hour by hour and hoping that he continues to improve a little each day.