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Vet J. 2008 Feb;175(2):194-201. Epub 2007 Apr 26.

Intra-abdominal adhesions in horses: a retrospective evaluation of repeat laparotomy in 99 horses with acute gastrointestinal disease.

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Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool, Leahurst, Neston, Wirral CH64 7TE, UK.


The objectives of this study were (1) to determine the prevalence of pathological abdominal adhesion formation following exploratory laparotomy; (2) to establish the site of adhesion formation and its relationship to the initial lesion; (3) to ascertain whether the development of intra-abdominal adhesions decreases long-term survival and (4) to identify risk factors for adhesion formation. Of 1014 horses treated surgically for acute gastrointestinal disease, 113 (10.1%) were subjected to repeat laparotomy, with surgical records available for 99 of these cases. Pathological adhesions were the most common diagnosis at repeat laparotomy (28%), followed by complications associated with the anastomosis (16%). Adhesions were not associated with the site of the primary lesion, resection, or endotoxaemia, consistent with the hypothesis that surgical trauma is the most important stimulus in adhesion formation. Together these findings strongly support the need for pan-abdominal, rather than site-specific adhesion prevention measures in all horses undergoing exploratory laparotomy.

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