Clinical findings, surgical techniques, prognostic factors for short-term survival and long-term outcome in horses with acquired inguinal hernias: Ninety-eight cases (2005-2020)

Vet Surg. 2024 Apr;53(3):468-476. doi: 10.1111/vsu.14023. Epub 2023 Aug 31.


Objective: To report findings, outcome and determine variables associated with survival in horses with acquired inguinal hernia (AIH).

Study design: Retrospective study.

Animals: A total of 98 cases in 97 horses.

Methods: The medical records (2005-2020) of horses diagnosed with AIH were reviewed. Retrieved data included signalment, history, clinical variables, surgical aspects, postoperative complications, and short- and long-term outcomes. Logistic regression analyses were used to determine factors associated with short-term survival (p < .05).

Results: Manual reduction was attempted in a third of the cases (32/98, 33%) and emergency surgery to reduce the hernia was performed in 64 of 98 (65%) cases. Concurrent small intestinal (SI) volvulus was identified in 26 (26/98, 27%) cases. Castration was the most common technique used to prevent recurrence (64/94, 68%). Overall AIH recurrence rate was 11% (11/98). A total of 59 (59/98, 60%) cases survived to hospital discharge and 49 of 52 (94%) cases were still alive after 12 months. Cases admitted within 10 h of colic signs had increased odds of survival (72%) compared to those admitted after 10 h (26%; p < .001). Draft breeds (p = .021), high heart rate on admission (p = .001) and concurrent SI volvulus (p = .048) were associated with reduced survival to hospital discharge.

Conclusions: Horses with AIH had a higher risk of concurrent SI volvulus and lower survival than reported. Draft breeds, high heart rate on admission and concurrent SI volvulus were associated with reduced short-term survival.

Clinical significance: The results of this study should help in prognostication for horses with AIH.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Colic* / veterinary
  • Hernia, Inguinal* / veterinary
  • Horse Diseases* / surgery
  • Horses
  • Intestinal Volvulus* / veterinary
  • Intestine, Small / surgery
  • Postoperative Complications / veterinary
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies