Originating from the abdominal cavity, colic is the most common emergency in equine medicine.
Clinical signs arise due to partial or total obstruction, inflammation or changes in gastro-intestinal motility of the small and large intestine.
Around 2-6% of colic cases require surgery while most cases of colic respond to conservative management. Due to the sometimes violent nature of the horse in pain, pain control is a priority for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Some drugs mask the symptoms on which veterinarians differentiate between surgical and medical colic (i.e. heart beat frequency, color of mucous membranes, etc.) and they should be avoided, at least until a diagnosis has been made.