Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Rectal Impaction (in Adult)

A rectal impaction is a manure obstruction within the small colon, but only a few feet (1 meter) away from the anus. At this location, the veterinarian’s hand might actually be able to reach and remove the obstruction.

Like an obstruction located anywhere in the intestinal tract, rectal impaction is expected to cause colic signs. Unlike other conditions, however, this condition tends to cause a horse to strain when passing manure.

Rectal impactions are very rare in adult horses, but meconium (first manure) obstructions of the rectum are common in foals.

Rectal impactions in adults may be caused by viral infection or parasite damage to rectal function. Rarely, horses that eat very coarse hays or feeds may develop rectal impaction. Rectal trauma and subsequent scarring can result in a narrow passage that blocks manure transit.


  • Is there an underlying problem with function of the rectum that has lead to this rectal impaction?
  • Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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