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Medical Treatment of Colic

I recently read an article entitled “Facts and Myths About Medical Treatment of Colic” authored by Dr. David E. Freeman in a recent issue of “The Practitioner”. Dr. Freeman began by going through an overall treatment plan for a medical colic, then addressed by category many of the medications used to treat a medical colic, looking more specifically at the facts and myths surrounding some of the more commonly used medications. What I very much appreciated was the research behind many of the facts that were presented as well as the “debunking” of the myths. Below find a sampling of what Dr. Freeman had to say:

:Flunixin meglumine(Banamine) does not mask signs of surgical colic and SHOULD NOT be given IM (intramuscular).

:Xylazine (Rompun) can be given IV or IM and is sufficient for most colic cases, can be given repeatedly in low doses as needed and has a short duration of effect.

:Mineral oil will lubricate ingesta but will not penetrate an impaction the way water will.

:Mineral oil can be given to horses that eventually go to surgery without concern for contamination and/or peritonitis if the intestine would have to be opened (due to cleaner, more effective methods used to empty the colon).

: IV (intravenous) fluids are expensive, require an indwelling IV catheter, and may be impractical in many settings.

:Horses with severe colic should not be treated with IV fluids at home, but instead transported immediately to a referral facility where fluids can be administered as the horse is prepped for surgery.

:Fluids given through a nasogastric tube can be an effective means of rehydrating horses with impaction, are less expensive, do not need to be sterile, and a prepared balanced electrolyte solution proved to be more effective than plain water.

Article: Freeman, David E. MVB, PHD,DACVS. Facts and Myths about Medical Treatment of Colic. The Practitioner, Issue 1, 2017. On line at:

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