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Equine Practice
Investigation of false colic in the horse
  1. Michael Hewetson

    Michael Hewetson graduated from Onderstepoort, South Africa, in 1999. He spent a year in private equine practice before completing a residency in equine internal medicine, critical care and anaesthesia at Glasgow. He currently holds a clinical position in equine sports medicine in the Middle East, where his main interests are cardiology and sports physiology. He holds the RCVS certificate in equine internal medicine.


COLIC refers to a syndrome of abdominal pain that encompasses a wide range of disorders, which can be gastrointestinal or non-gastrointestinal in nature. The clinical manifestations of the latter are often referred to as ‘false colic’ and can pose a considerable diagnostic challenge for the veterinary surgeon. Of particular relevance are non-gastrointestinal causes of colic that present with clinical signs suggestive of a strangulating obstruction of the intestine. An accurate diagnosis in such cases is essential and hinges on the objective assessment of historical information and on the results of a systematic physical examination, clinical laboratory tests and appropriate diagnostic imaging. This article reviews the diagnosis of disorders in the horse that do not originate from the gastrointestinal tract, but which elicit real or apparent abdominal pain.

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