What can I expect during a colic workup at Littleton Equine Medical Center?

picstitch (17) 

What can you expect during a colic work up:

When your veterinarian recommends referral to our clinic, they will call to give us information regarding your horse (physical exam, treatments administered, etc.) as well as an estimated time of arrival. Once we are aware that you and your horse will be arriving, our emergency team is assembled.


Upon Your Arrival If Surgery Is Needed
Upon your arrival to Littleton Equine Medical Center, our emergency team will greet you and your horse.A colic exam, similar to one that may have been provided in the field, will be performed in order to fully evaluate your horse on admission. Some conditions can cause a horse’s clinical status to change quickly, so it is important to compare these findings to what was seen by the veterinarian in the field.


Our colic examination typically includes, but is not limited to, the following procedures: Physical examination and history, bloodwork, IV catheter placement for IV fluid administration, passage of a nasogastric tube,+/- abdominal ultrasound, etc. The initial work-up is to help us determine the cause of your horse’s colic in order to determine the best way to treat your horse, which can include medical treatment or emergency gastrointestinal “colic” surgery if necessary.


Should your horse have a medical colic, we recommend that your horse be hospitalized for at least 24 hours in order to monitor for further signs of colic and allow for any medical treatment that has been indicated. The total length of hospitalization varies from case to case.

Should your horse need emergency colic surgery, our team would respond in the most efficient manner to expedite this process. We understand that during such an emergency, many emotions are encountered by our clients. Our goal is to provide the best care possible for the horse, while showing compassion for horse and owner. Our surgical team will keep you informed should anything critical arise during the surgical procedure.Following the surgery, your horse will be transferred to a padded recovery stall. The period of anesthetic recovery varies from horse to horse. Once your horse is standing in the recovery stall, a veterinarian will call you with an update. After your horse recovers from anesthesia, they are monitored closely for further signs of colic, and treated with IV fluids and other medications as needed, in our intensive care unit (ICU).


Our ICU is staffed 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week. Most horses are discharged from the hospital within 7-10 days following colic surgery. Occasionally, post-operative complications can arise which result in a longer hospitalization period.



Discharge Upon discharge, you will meet with the veterinarian and/or technician to go over recommendations for your horse. You will also be given any medications that your horse needs to continue receiving at home. The specific treatments and exercise protocol will be designed with your horse in mind and outlined in the discharge instructions.