PERITONITIS is a potentially life-threatening condition in horses which can present a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge for the veterinary surgeon. Equine peritonitis is associated with a relatively high mortality rate and those animals that do survive the pathophysiological effects can suffer long-term complications such as chronic illthrift and colic. However, rapid diagnosis and early aggressive therapy can successfully reduce both mortality and complication rates and many animals go on to make a full recovery. As the clinical signs of peritonitis are frequently non-specific and nebulous, definitive diagnosis largely depends on the correct interpretation of clinical pathology data. This article provides practical guidance in this area and outlines the options available to the practitioner for treating these often difficult cases.
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