A horse can carry or more smaller enteroliths in his gut, or he may develop only one or two large ones. Often, the small ones pass. Enteroliths are one of the leading causes of severe colic in the state of California. The word enterolith is derived from the Greek terms “entero”. Enteroliths are mineralized concretions of magnesium ammonium phosphate ( struvite) that develop in the right dorsal colon of the horse.

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As stones grow, they can cause damage to the intestinal walls, particularly in the bowel. Most human enteroliths are radiolucent on plain X-rays. Views Read Edit View history.

The symptoms and physical exam will most likely suggest an obstruction in the digestive system, but additional technology is required to determine what is causing the obstruction and where it is located. Most often, they are entero,ith using ultrasound. The relative hypomotility of the right dorsal colon is also thought to have a role in enterolith formation.

Enteroliths take approximately 2 years to form a sufficient size to cause an obstruction. Skip to content Home Equinews Enteroliths in Horses.

Steinbeck Country Equine Clinic | Enteroliths: A Rock and a Hard Place

Enteroliths in horses were reported widely in the 19th century, infrequently in the early 20th century, and now increasingly. Tim met his wife, Alexandra Alex in veterinary school; they were married during his surgical residency and are proud parents of four children.

Enteroliths are mineral masses that form in the colon of a horse. Anecdotal reports suggest that cider vinegar added in to hard feed may help to prevent the formation of enteroliths. Once the animal has returned home water should be made available at all times to help encourage proper digestion.


Therefore, if a horse shows recurrent colic signs consistent with enterolith problems, researchers strongly advise taking diagnostic radiographs before making major adjustments to the diet. If the enterolith is large enough to cause an obstruction most commonly in the transverse or small colonsigns of acute, severe abdominal pain are usually seen.

Rectal examination rarely leads to the identification of an enterolith but may reveal distension of the large colon and tight mesenteric bands. Ultimately large stones lodge in the gut, frequently where the intestine narrows at the pelvic flexure or right dorsal colon, and the gut wall begins to necrotize from abrasion and pressure.

For help with diagnosing colic see Colic Diagnosis in Horses.

The addition of a cup or two of vinegar or apple cider vinegar has been shown to be useful for reducing the pH of the hindgut of equines, but it cannot dissolve stones that have already formed, and no studies have shown a definitive effect on the formation of gut stones as of yet. Females are more likely to develop enteroliths than males; this is hypothesised to be due to the presence of prostaglandins in the serum leading to alterations in gut motility.

The amount of alfalfa and wheat bran in the diet should be reduced and offering ample opportunity for turn out will add valuable roughage from grazing. Enteroliths are a very important cause of colic in California and several other states. Their chemical composition is diverse, and rarely can a nidus be found. This minimizes the chance of contamination of the abdomen with intestinal contents. The stones usually begin their formations around an indigestible object such as a small rock or piece of cloth and grow as more minerals attach to it.

Enterolithiasis in Horses

Like many veterinarians, Tim decided to become an equine veterinarian at a very hors age. The prognosis is excellent when surgery is performed early. Enteroliths of various shapes and sizes. In this respect, an enterolith forms by a process similar to the creation of a pearl.


This page was last edited on 10 Septemberat A third is preventing ingestion of foreign objects by cleaning up pastures and turnout paddocks. If you would like to help with this, please see more information about expert reviewing. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The pathogenesis of the disease is not fully understood but long-term ingestion of a diet rich in protein, phosphorus and magnesium such as alfalfa hay is thought to be a major contributing factor.

In the case of obstruction, however, the passage of faeces will be blocked and defecation will no longer take place. In most cases, enteroliths that have expanded to the point that they are obstructing the digestion will have to be removed surgically. Ultrasound imaging is useful for evaluating the health of the tissues in the digestive system and can be helpful in locating pockets of fluid or intestinal rupture. They sometimes can be visualized on CT scans without contrast; presence of contrast in the lumen may reveal the enterolith as a void.

For other uses, see calculus medicine. Abdominal radiograph showing a large enterolith. Several risk factors can encourage the development of the enteroliths that result in enterolithiasis.

Diets of alfalfa and wheat bran load the gut with calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and protein. It has been suggested that horses bedded on straw have a chance to nibble on material with a higher level of insoluble substances, while horses on shavings or rubber stall mats lack this access to a substance that can enhance gut motility.