Prospective study of the primary evaluation of 1016 horses with clinical signs of abdominal pain by veterinary practitioners, and the differentiation of critical and non‑critical cases

Curtis, Laila and Burford, J.H. and Thomas, Jennifer Sara Marian and Curran, Marise Linda and Bayes, Tom Curtis and England, Gary C.W. and Freeman, Sarah L. (2015) Prospective study of the primary evaluation of 1016 horses with clinical signs of abdominal pain by veterinary practitioners, and the differentiation of critical and non‑critical cases. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, 57 (69). pp. 1-12. ISSN 1751-0147

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Abstract

Background: The majority of research on the evaluation of horses with colic is focused on referral hospital populations. Early identification of critical cases is important to optimise outcome and welfare. The aim of this prospective study was to survey the primary evaluation of horses with clinical signs of abdominal pain by veterinary practitioners, and compare the initial presentation of critical and non-critical cases.

Results: Data from 1016 primary evaluations of horses presenting with clinical signs of colic were submitted by 167 veterinary practitioners across the United Kingdom over a 13 month period. The mean age of the study population was 13.5 years (median 12.0, range 0–42). Mean heart rate on primary presentation was 47 beats/min (median 44, range 18–125), mean respiratory rate was 20 breaths/min (median 16, range 6–100), and median gastrointestinal auscultation score (0–12, minimum–maximum) was 5 (range 0–12). Clinical signs assessed using a behavioural severity score (0–17, minimum–maximum), were between 0 and 6 in 70.4 % of cases, and 7 12 for 29.6 % of cases. Rectal examination was performed in 73.8 % of cases. Cases that responded positively to simple medical treatment were categorised retrospectively as ‘non-critical’; cases that required intensive medical treatment, surgical intervention, died or were euthanased were categorised as ‘critical’. Eight-hundred-and-twenty- two cases met these criteria; 76.4 % were ‘non-critical’ and 23.6 % were ‘critical’. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify features of the clinical presentation associated with critical cases. Five variables were retained in the final multivariable model: combined pain score: (OR 1.19, P < 0.001, 95 % CI 1.09–1.30), heart rate (OR 1.06, P < 0.001, 95 % CI 1.04–1.08), capillary refill time >2.5 s (OR 3.21, P = 0.046, 95 % CI 1.023–10.09), weak pulse character (OR 2.90, P = 0.004, 95 % CI 1.39–5.99) and absence of gut sounds in ≥1 quadrant (OR 3.65, P < 0.001, 95 % CI 2.08–6.41).

Conclusions: This is the first study comparing the primary presentation of critical and non-critical cases of abdominal pain. Pain, heart rate, gastrointestinal borborygmi and simple indicators of hypovolaemia were significant indicators of critical cases, even at the primary veterinary examination, and should be considered essential components of the initial assessment and triage of horses presenting with colic.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Horse, Colic, Evaluation, Critical, Outcome
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Veterinary Medicine and Science
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13028-015-0160-9
Related URLs:
URLURL Type
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/UNSPECIFIED
Depositing User: Eprints, Support
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2016 09:06
Last Modified: 24 Nov 2016 05:23
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/38839

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