COLIC is one of the most commonly encountered emergency conditions of the horse seen in practice. Many owners are aware of the potentially life-threatening consequences of colic and such cases can be stressful to deal with, particularly for inexperienced practitioners or those who deal infrequently with horses. Decisions about which diagnostic tests to perform and the most suitable treatment options are important in ensuring that appropriate action is taken. Although many cases of colic seen in first opinion practice are mild and recover spontaneously or following medical treatment, it is vital to identify those animals that may require surgery, if this is an option for the owner. For such patients, early referral is essential as this will maximise the chance of a successful outcome. This article discusses the factors which should be considered in this decision-making process.
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