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Right Dorsal Displacement of Large Colon

There are a handful of well recognized displacements of the large colon. This is one of the more common.

In this displacement, the large colon pelvic flexure and left dorsal colons, which normally reside in the rear left quadrant of the horse’s abdomen, end up on the right side of the horse. This causes a kink in the flow of the colon, causing obstruction to the flow of ingesta.

There is usually a large impaction accompanying this displacement. It is in almost all cases, this is a problem that can only be resolved with colic surgery.

Some horses with these displacements may look quite bright for a long period of time, and only in mild pain. Unlike strangulating obstructions of the colon, the intestine is not badly damaged. The horse may respond well to flunixin and other pain relievers and give a false impression for a period of time that the problem has resolved.

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Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


Ness SL, Bain FT, Zantingh AJ, et al., Ultrasonic visualization of colonic mesenteric vasculature as an indicator of large colon right dorsal displacement &/or 180 degree volvulus in horses. Can Vet J Apr 2012;53(4):378–82.


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