TEMPERATURE AND RECTAL EXAM
Rectal Temperature: This
is a critical parameter. Most
colicky horses do not have an increased rectal temperature, thus this finding
may help to rule out luminal or extra-luminal GI obstruction.
Conversely, a colicky horse with a septic or infectious condition can
have an elevated temperature usually from enteritis or peritonitis from a
ruptured or necrotic bowel. Colic
accompanied by an elevated temperature is a poor prognostic sign.
A decreased temperature is usually a sign of circulatory collapse and is
a grave sign. It is very important
to obtain the rectal temperature before performing a rectal exam since air
introduced into the rectum may falsely decrease the rectal temperature.
Rectal Exam: Feces,
or the absence of feces, should be noted. If
the horse offers resistance in the form of a peristaltic wave, one should follow
the wave back until it dissipates by withdrawing the hand, or at least by not
trying to extend the hand further into the rectum.
Forcing one’s way through the center of a peristaltic contraction is
inviting rectal perforation in the horse. The pelvic flexure is a frequent site
for impaction of ingesta because of its decreased lumen size and hairpin turn.
In cases of obstruction, distended bowel is frequently palpable.
In a normal abdomen, the left side of the abdomen should reveal the
distal left ventral colon, the pelvic flexure, the proximal left dorsal colon,
the spleen, the left kidney and the left ovary.
The ventral abdomen contains the bladder, inguinal rings, cervix and
uterus. The right side of the
abdomen contains the cecum and segments of the small colon.
The small intestine is usually not palpable.
In the cranial aspect of the dorsal abdomen, the root of the mesentery
and the nephrosplenic ligament may be palpable.
RECTAL PALPATION DIAGRAMS
Click on your next PE point to continue with
your physical exam.