Rectal tears in the horse: an analysis of 35 cases. Academic Article uri icon


  • The records of 35 horses with Grade 3 or 4 rectal tears, presented to the Veterinary Medical Center at Texas A & M University over a five year period, were reviewed. Grade 3 tears were sub-classified according to whether the remaining tissue was serosa (Grade 3a) or mesorectum (Grade 3b). Five horses were destroyed on presentation and 30 were treated by primary suture closure (8 horses), faecal diversion alone (9 horses) or in combination with suture closure (11 horses) and packing of the tear with medicated gauze sponges (two horses). Faecal diversion was achieved with a temporary indwelling rectal liner (TIRL) in 19 horses and colostomy in one. Survival was related to classification of the tear, efficacy of first aid measures administered at time of injury and method of treatment. Seventy-four per cent of horses with Grade 3a tears and 44 per cent of those with Grade 3b tears survived. Grade 4 tears had a grave prognosis. Horses given adequate first aid before admission had a better survival rate. With proper patient selection, primary closure of the tear with sutures yielded excellent results. In horses which were not candidates for suture closure alone, a combination of faecal diversion and suturing gave better results than faecal diversion only. In addition, selected horses were treated successfully by packing the rectal tear with gauze sponges. The results demonstrate the value of a TIRL to divert faeces and appropriate first aid measures in treating rectal tears.

published proceedings

  • Equine Vet J

author list (cited authors)

  • Watkins, J. P., Taylor, T. S., Schumacher, J., Taylor, J. R., & Gillis, J. P

citation count

  • 29

complete list of authors

  • Watkins, JP||Taylor, TS||Schumacher, J||Taylor, JR||Gillis, JP

publication date

  • May 1989