Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome Consensus Statement

Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome Consensus Statement

A veterinarian can only make a definite diagnosis via an endoscopic examination of the stomach (termed gastroscopy).

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

By Bianca Schwarz, DVM, DrMedVet, Dipl. ECEIM, WEVA board member

Gastric ulcers are a common problem in sport and racehorses, but they can also occur in pleasure horses. Due to very vague clinical signs, such as poor appetite, exercise intolerance, or signs of mild colic, it can be hard to tell if a horse suffers from gastric ulcers or another problem. A veterinarian can only make a definite diagnosis via an endoscopic examination of the stomach (termed gastroscopy).

Recently, the European College of Equine Internal Medicine published the “Consensus Statement on Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome in Adult Horses” in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. This article summarizes the current collective knowledge veterinarians hold about equine gastric ulcer syndrome (or EGUS) and is designed to provide guidelines for equine veterinarians. The article also suggests using EGUS as an umbrella term for all types of gastric erosions and ulcerations.

The equine stomach consists of two different types of mucosa: the glandular mucosa (located at the bottom of the stomach) and the squamous mucosa (found at the top). Depending on the location of the lesion, the paper suggests, the terms ESGD (equine squamous gastric disease) or EGGD (equine glandular gastric disease) should be used. The paper also recommends using a grading system for the severity of lesions.

The location, type, and severity of lesions will dictate which therapeutic options a veterinarian has. Such options include optimizing the horse’s feed and management protocols, but also medical therapy (for example, with the proton pump inhibitor omeprazole).

After successful treatment, veterinarians should work to prevent ulcers from recurring. The consensus statement discusses different prevention strategies, such as pharmaceutical prevention, nutraceuticals, and nutritional management.

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