Long-term follow-up on recovery, return to use and sporting activity: a retrospective study of 236 operated colic horses in Finland (2006–2012)
REASONS FOR PERFORMING STUDY There is a paucity of studies addressing sporting activity and horse owners' satisfaction after horses have undergone colic surgery. OBJECTIVES To determine 1) survival rate after colic surgery, 2) prevalence of horses returning to, or starting, sporting activities and 3) assess the owners' satisfaction regarding colic surgery. METHODS Cases that underwent exploratory celiotomy for colic between January 2005 and August 2010 were reviewed. All horses that had one or more celiotomies and were discharged after colic surgery were included in a telephone questionnaire survey. Only horses that survived at least 6 months after colic surgery were included in the sporting activity analysis. Data extracted from the records included case details, intra-operative diagnosis and surgical treatment. Information from a telephone questionnaire included the horses' post surgical details (horse alive or subjected to euthanasia, post operative complications, pre- and post surgical use, return to sporting activity, sporting performance, behavioural changes, management changes and recommendation by owner for colic surgery). A logistic regression model was used for the statistical analysis of post hospitalisation performance and an ordinal regression model used for analysis of post colic complications and of owner's recommendation of surgery. A Kaplan-Meier survival curve was computed to show survival of horses discharged after colic surgery. RESULTS The survival rates (%) at 6, 12, 24, 36, 48 and 60 months were 95.3, 86.6, 80.9, 76.9, 62.1 and 57.6, respectively. A large majority of horses (86.1%) resumed or started sporting activities after colic surgery. The proportion of horses that the owners believed to achieve the same or better performance after surgery was 83.5%. In 89.9% of the cases, owners stated that they would recommend colic surgery. CONCLUSIONS Horses discharged after colic surgery had a high long-term survival rate. A high prevalence of horses resumed or started sporting activities with a high proportion of horses at their presurgical performance level. The large majority of owners of discharged horses were satisfied with colic surgery performed on their horses.