Hundreds of veterinarians waited patiently in line in San Diego, Calif., on the afternoon of Nov. 26—and not at the airport. They were waiting in the American Association of Equine Practitioners convention trade show to purchase a copy of “The Glass Horse,” a digital, three-dimensional electronic horse model developed by James N. Moore, DVM, PhD, and two of his colleagues at the University of Georgia. That morning, Moore had delivered the Frank J. Milne State of the Art lecture, including a review of the capabilities of the Glass Horse program that has been in development for more than four years at the university.

“The equine gastrointestinal (GI) tract was probably designed by a committee,” Moore said with a chuckle. “You have to have a good topographical appreciation for the anatomy and the ability to visualize within the abdomen” in order to effectively understand many GI diseases and displacements.

When Moore was in veterinary school, he had difficulty developing this ability to visualize the abdominal structures. “I found myself staring at black and white images a lot, re-reading passages in the anatomy textbooks, and trying to make as much sense of what I could find. Then the first thing that would happen is we’d have a colic case, and the horse would end up on its back (for surgery) and my orientation would be shot.” Even in the textbooks that included cross sections of the GI tract, Moore pointed out, most of the intestine is depicted as being distended and open. “If the horse has 70 feet of small intestine and it all has the diameter of two to three inches, there’s no way you’re going to fit all of those feet of distended intestine into the abdomen,” he explained. With the combined talent of a computer graphics illustrator, an instructional technologist, and Moore’s idea and desire to help students improve their understanding of the GI tract, multiple animations showing normal and abnormal structures of the abdomen were created.

Veterinarians watched in awe as Moore revealed some of the animations that he and his colleagues have completed, including left dorsal displacement of the large colon, pelvic flexure impaction, right dorsal displacement of the colon, and large colon torsion. The animations can be viewed from all angles, although the rectal view was emphasized. Everything that is not palpable in a rectal exam is not visible, assisting with the understanding of what structures are involved in GI displacements. Moore and the University of Georgia team are working on more animations to add to the Glass Horse program.

Platinum Performance Inc. distributes the CD-ROM, and the public can obtain the Glass Horse at for $40. The program includes animation, text, and audio. The proceeds from sale of the CD-ROM will help support the University of Georgia’s animation and colic research efforts.

A New Perspective on Endotoxemia

Endotoxemia is one of the most commonly encountered life-threatening conditions in horses with gastrointestinal disease. It is, by nature, a very disappointing and frustrating disease to encounter, and is the leading cause of death in adult horses with colic and foals less than a week old with septicemia.
Gram-negative bacterial endotoxins, which are structural components of the bacteria’s cell wall, commonly are detected in the circulation of horses and foals with this serious disease. The most common clinical signs of endotoxemia include abnormalities in mucous membrane color (darkened color), prolonged of capillary refill time, increased heart and respiratory rates, reduced intestinal sounds, fever, and emoconcentration (increased concentration of cells and proteins in the blood).

Moore provided veterinarians with a history of endotoxemia, a better understanding of endotoxemia with the help of animations like those used in the Glass Horse, an appreciation of the impact of the new findings regarding the ways endotoxins exert their deleterious effects, and some thoughts on potential new methods of treatment. While the condition is life-threatening, much has been learned in the past five years about how endotoxins exert their ill effects. These new research findings will lead to better methods of treatment and prevention of endotoxemia in horses and foals.

Look for more stories from the AAEP convention at, and in the February, 2002 issue, which mails soon!


About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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