Putative intestinal hyperammonaemia in horses: 36 cases. Academic Article uri icon


  • REASONS FOR PERFORMING THE STUDY: Intestinal hyperammonaemia (HA) has been infrequently reported in individual horses; however, there have been no studies describing clinical and laboratory data as well as short- and long-term outcome in a larger number of cases. OBJECTIVES: To describe clinical and laboratory data and short- and long-term outcome in a large group of horses with intestinal HA. METHODS: Multi-centred, retrospective study; case records of horses with HA were reviewed and any horse with a clinical or post mortem diagnosis of intestinal HA was included. Hyperammonaemia was defined as a blood ammonium (NH(4) (+)) concentration 60 mol/l and horses with a diagnosis of primary hepatic disease were excluded. Relevant data were recorded and, if appropriate, data from survivors were compared to nonsurvivors to identify potential prognostic indicators. RESULTS: Thirty-six cases, 26 mature horses and 10 foals with intestinal HA were identified. Case histories included diarrhoea, colic and neurological signs and the most common clinical diagnosis was colitis and/or enteritis. The most common clinical and laboratory abnormalities included tachycardia, increased packed cell volume, hyperlactataemia and hyperglycaemia. Fourteen horses (39%) survived to discharge; NH(4) (+) concentration on admission was the only parameter significantly associated with survival. All surviving horses and foals for which follow-up information was available recovered completely and returned to their intended use without further complications. CONCLUSIONS AND POTENTIAL RELEVANCE: Intestinal HA occurs in mature horses and foals and can be associated with severe clinical and laboratory abnormalities; further studies are required to investigate predisposing factors and delineate possible differences in aetiologies.

published proceedings

  • Equine Vet J

author list (cited authors)

  • Dunkel, B., Chaney, K. P., Dallap-Schaer, B. L., Pellegrini-Masini, A., Mair, T. S., & Boston, R.

citation count

  • 28

publication date

  • January 2011