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Vet J. 2008 Jan;175(1):102-7. Epub 2007 Feb 23.

The effect of colic on oxygen extraction in horses.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Pharmacotherapy and Toxicology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Liège, B-4000 Liège, Belgium.


Blood oxygen transport and oxygen extraction were assessed in horses with colic. A gravity score (GS) ranging from 1 to 3 was attributed to each colic case with healthy horses used as controls. Jugular venous and carotid arterial blood samples were collected and concentrations of 2,3-diphosphoglycerate, adenosine triphosphate, inorganic phosphate and chloride were determined. pH and partial pressures of carbon dioxide (PCO(2)), and oxygen (PO(2)) were also measured. Oxygen equilibrium curves (OEC) were constructed under standard conditions and oxygen extraction ratios calculated. Haemoglobin oxygen affinity measured under standard conditions (P50(std)) was unchanged in colic horses compared with healthy controls. Horses with the highest GS, i.e. 3 had lower blood pH values than healthy animals. Arterial and venous partial pressures of oxygen at 50% haemoglobin saturation (P50(a) and P50(v)) were significantly higher in horses suffering from colic (GS=3) than in healthy horses. The oxygen extraction ratio was also significantly increased in colic horses with a GS of 3. A rise in the oxygen extraction ratio detected in the most severely affected animals seemed to reflect the compensatory properties of the oxygen transport system where extraction of oxygen from the blood increases when systemic oxygen delivery decreases, as might be anticipated in horses with colic.

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