Flame, a 12-year-old Tennessee walking horse gelding, was referred for emergency colic evaluation back in February. After examination on the farm, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine alumna Shaylyn Crawford suspected a right dorsal displacement and recommended that Flame be transported to the Equine Medical Center for further diagnostics and treatment.

Upon arrival at the center, Flame was noted to have decreased gut sounds in all quadrants. Careful examination, bloodwork, and an abdominal ultrasound revealed a very low white blood cell count, peritonitis (mild inflammation/infection of the abdominal cavity), and a displaced colon. In addition, Flame’s calcium and magnesium levels were exceptionally low, resulting in synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (“thumps”).

Krista Estell, clinical assistant professor of equine medicine, recommended medical management with intravenous fluids and antibiotics, and Flame was admitted to the hospital for close monitoring and 24/7 care. The gelding was administered IV fluids with electrolyte supplementation overnight and a constant infusion of lidocaine for pain management, as well as intravenous antibiotics for management of his peritonitis.

Flame rallied quickly! During his five-day stay in hospital, his large colon displacement resolved, and he was able to pass normal manure. He was then carefully reintroduced to hay and grain and, in the absence of any issues, was ready to return home.

Written by Sharon Peart for the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.