Equine Health Update EHU Vol 19 Issue 4 - Page 14

EQUINE | Equine Disease Update elusive. Simple colic, commonly diagnosed as “gas colic,” “spasmodic colic,” or “ileus,” makes up ap- proximately 85% of all colic episodes, yet the cause or mechanism for these gastrointestinal abnormalities re- mains unknown. Similarly, the cause of diseases with a higher morbidity and mortality such as intestinal strangulations have no known cause. Epidemiologi- cal research over the past three decades has identified risk factors appearing to have a causal relationship, yet specific mechanisms such as why intestine twists and strangulates on its mesentery is unknown. Alteration in intestinal function is most likely multifactorial, with combined event and environmental factors increasing risk. Some of these factors are non-specific, but still are sig- nificantly related to increased colic risk. Numerous factors are reported to increase colic risk including some basic husbandry and feeding practices (see Table 1). Multiple aspects of the pathophysiology of colic have been investigated. Research on intestinal motility, sys- temic inflammatory response syndrome (also known as endotoxic shock), intestinal injury and inflamma- tion, parasite control, gastric ulcers, surgical tech- niques, and response to therapy have all improved the understanding of events that occur during colic. There is no question the additional information has changed the veterinarian’s ability to improve colic treatment and survival. Still, how intestinal dysfunction and sys- temic responses are initiated remain to be discovered. More research is needed if we are to change the colic p