In our last post, we discussed (mainly) non-surgical types of large intestinal colic. However, as we all know, sometimes colic goes beyond what we can treat in the field and referral for surgery is necessary. Typically, these result from the colon moving (or displacing) into a place that it shouldn't be. That being said, some of these can be treated medically, however not always successfully. Since we've already gone over the anatomy of the large colon, (See Large Intestinal Colic: Part One) let's jump right into what might have happened if your horse's bowel becomes blocked.
Right Dorsal Displacement: The left colon is quite mobile and likes to get stuck in places. In a right dorsal displacement (RDD), the left colon slides around to the right side of the abdomen and gets stuck between the cecum and the body wall. The pelvic flexure (the U-shaped area at the top of the picture) moves from the back end of the abdomen (near the rectum) to end up near the diaphragm. This is all kinds of crazy! The large intestine becomes partially occluded and gas distended. In practice, we can see this occur in conjunction with a pelvic flexure impaction. Generally speaking, the blood supply remains intact so the bowel remains healthy. We can sometimes treat these with fluids and withholding feed, but often times surgery is required. At surgery, the colon just needs to be decompressed and repositioned into the appropriate anatomic location. As long as nothing more serious is going on, these horses recover quite well.
Drs. Ashley and Matt Kornatowski share their experiences and insights into veterinary medicine. We hope you find this blog both informative and entertaining.