Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Indicators of ‘critical’ outcomes in 941 horses seen ‘out-of-hours’ for colic

Bowden, Adelle; England, Gary C W; Brennan, Marnie Louise; Mair, Tim S; Furness, Wendy A; Freeman, Sarah L; Burford, John H


Foundation Dean & Prof Comparative Veterinary Reproduction

Tim S Mair

Wendy A Furness

Professor of Veterinary Surgery


Background: This study aimed to describe the presentation and outcomes of horses with signs of colic (abdominal pain) seen ‘out-of-hours’ in equine practice.

Methods: This was a retrospective study of horses seen ‘out-of-hours’ with colic by two equine veterinary practices between 2011-2013. Case outcomes were categorised as ‘critical’ or ‘not critical’. A critical outcome was defined as requiring medical or surgical hospital treatment, or resulting in euthanasia or death. A non-critical outcome was defined as resolving with simple medical treatment. A hierarchical generalised linear model was used to identify ‘red flag’ parameters (aspects of signalment, history and presenting clinical signs) associated with critical outcomes.

Results: Data were retrieved from 941 cases that presented with colic; 23.9% (n=225/941) were critical. Variables significantly associated with the likelihood of a critical outcome in the final multivariable mode were: increased heart rate (p [less than] 0.001), age of the horse (p=0.013) and abnormal mucous membrane colour (p [less than] 0.001). Overall 18% of cases (n=168/941) were euthanased.

Conclusions: This study highlights the mortality associated with colic. The ‘red flag’ parameters identified should be considered an essential component of the primary assessment of horses with colic.


Bowden, A., England, G. C. W., Brennan, M. L., Mair, T. S., Furness, W. A., Freeman, S. L., & Burford, J. H. (2020). Indicators of ‘critical’ outcomes in 941 horses seen ‘out-of-hours’ for colic. Veterinary Record, 187(12), 492-492.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 28, 2020
Online Publication Date Jul 27, 2020
Publication Date 2020-12
Deposit Date Jun 25, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jul 27, 2020
Journal Veterinary Record
Electronic ISSN 2042-7670
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 187
Issue 12
Pages 492-492
Keywords horse, equine, equids, out-of-hours, after hours, colic, abdominal pain, critical , outcomes
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This article has been accepted for publication in Veterinary Record, 2020 following peer review, and the Version of Record can be accessed online at

© British Veterinary Association 2020. No commercial re-use.


You might also like

Downloadable Citations