Although recognition of equine pain has been studied extensively over the past decades there is still need for improvement in objective identification of pain in horses with acute colic. This study describes scale construction and clinical applicability of the Equine Utrecht University Scale for Composite Pain Assessment (EQUUS-COMPASS) and the Equine Utrecht University Scale for Facial Assessment of Pain (EQUUS-FAP) in horses with acute colic. A cohort follow-up study was performed using 50 adult horses (n = 25 with acute colic, n = 25 controls). Composite pain scores were assessed by direct observations, Visual Analog Scale (VAS) scores were assessed from video clips. Colic patients were assessed at arrival, and on the first and second mornings after arrival. Both the EQUUS-COMPASS and EQUUS-FAP scores showed high inter-observer reliability (ICC = 0.98 for EQUUS-COMPASS, ICC = 0.93 for EQUUS-FAP, P <0.001), while a moderate inter-observer reliability for the VAS scores was found (ICC = 0.63, P <0.001). The cut-off value for differentiation between healthy and colic horses for the EQUUS-COMPASS was 5, and for differentiation between conservatively treated and surgically treated or euthanased patients it was 11. For the EQUUS-FAP, cut-off values were 4 and 6, respectively. Internal sensitivity and specificity were good for both EQUUS-COMPASS (sensitivity 95.8%, specificity 84.0%) and EQUUS-FAP (sensitivity 87.5%, specificity 88.0%). The use of the EQUUS-COMPASS and EQUUS-FAP enabled repeated and objective scoring of pain in horses with acute colic. A follow-up study with new patients and control animals will be performed to further validate the constructed scales that are described in this study.
Keywords: Colic; EQUUS-COMPASS; EQUUS-FAP; Equine; Facial expression; Pain scale.
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