Non-Infectious Gastrointestinal Disease
These conditions are inflammatory in nature and may give rise to diarrhea, weight loss and inappetance. There may be an accompanying fever. These inflammatory bowel diseases may be associated with inflammation with no specific cause or cancer of the intestinal tract such as lymphoma or adenocarcinoma.
Liver stones, also known as choleliths or hepatoliths, occur infrequently in horses. The stones are composed of calcium and bilirubin, which is a breakdown product of hemoglobin derived from red blood cells. Middle-aged horses are most commonly affected, and clinical signs often include icterus or jaundice, abdominal pain, weight loss and poor appetite. The presence of theses stones can give rise to secondary bacterial infections of the liver, leading to fevers in some cases. Advanced cases may lead to liver failure and neurologic signs, as the levels of ammonia in the blood accumulate.
Diagnosis is confirmed by ultrasonographic imaging of the liver in conjunction with clinical signs and changes on the bloodwork consistent with liver disease. Liver biopsies may also aid in diagnosis of the condition.
Due to the difficulty in removing these stones via surgery, the prognosis for severe cases involving obstruction of the common bile duct is unfortunately poor. Less severe cases may respond to fluid, and long-term antibiotic and anti-inflammatory therapy.