Improving Peritonitis Treatment in Horses, AAEP 2009

"Prompt and aggressive treatment of peritonitis is often essential in horses," began Olivier M. Lepage, DMV, PhD, Dipl. ECVS, from the University of Lyon in France, at the 2009 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 6-10 in Las Vegas, Nev.

Peritonitis, defined as inflammation of the peritoneum (membrane lining the abdomen), can result from many problems, from disease to infection following injury or colic/colic surgery. Regardless of the cause, a common treatment is lavage (flushing) of the abdomen after the primary cause of the peritonitis is handled. Many liters of fluid are used to lavage a horse's abdomen, and of course you have to get all that fluid out--the quicker, the better.

Lepage discussed a study that evaluated the use of a special fenestrated catheter (one with several holes along its length) for draining the lavage fluid out of the abdomen. This catheter's many holes are less likely to all plug up and reduce drainage than a catheter with a single hole, he noted.

The study compared the drainage rate of the multiple fenestrated catheter to that of a typical Foley catheter (with one hole at the end). "The multiple fenestrated balloon catheter was effective for the collection of lavage fluids in adult standing horses," Lepage reported. "Over 60% of the lavage solution was recovered in less than one hour in 83% of drainage procedures using the multiple fenestrated balloon catheter, and in only 33% of the drainage procedures with the Foley catheter." Using two multiple fenestrated catheters instead of one did not appear to offer any additional benefit, he noted.

"Based on this study and on the authors' experience, this catheter is justified in clinical cases of peritonitis, pleurisy in adults, and uroperitoneum in foals," Lepage summarized.

About the Author

Christy M. West

Christy West has a BS in Equine Science from the University of Kentucky, and an MS in Agricultural Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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