Colic Survival Improved With Carboxymethylcellulose

Statistical analysis of the data showed that horses that did not receive CBMC were twice as likely to die compared to horses treated with CBMC.

Direct application of carboxymethylcellulose (CBMC) to the small intestines and surrounding tissues of horses during colic surgery for small intestinal disease improves postoperative survival, report veterinarians from North Carolina State University.

CBMC is a polysaccharide (a long chain of sugar molecules) thought to decrease adhesions (the abnormal union of body tissues) in horses who have undergone abdominal surgery. It is a powder that is suspended in a liquid, then essentially poured into the intestine. Adhesions are thought to be the primary reason for recurrent bouts of colic following small intestinal surgery in horses.

In this study, researchers retrospectively analyzed medical records from 203 horses that underwent surgery for small intestinal disease. This included 33 horses who received CBMC intraoperatively and 170 horses that did not.

Results revealed that the intra-operative administration of 1% CBMC seemed to prolong survival and decrease mortality. Specifically, 75% of the horses that were administered CBMC survived to 180 days whereas 75% of the horses that did not receive CBMC survived only eight days post-operatively.

Statistical analysis of the data showed that horses that did not receive CBMC were twice as likely to die compared to horses treated with CBMC.

Based on these results, CBMC administration appears warranted in horses undergoing surgery for small intestinal disease, particularly in horses at-risk for postoperative ileus or post-operative colic.

The study, "Analysis of sodium carboxymethylcellulose administration related factors associated with postoperative colic and survival in horses with small intestinal disease," was published in the August 2008 edition of the journal Veterinary Surgery.

About the Author

Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she's worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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