Conditions or ailments that are the cause of a problem that you see - your observation.

Your vet may diagnose

Cecal Disorders, Generally


The horse’s large intestine is composed of the cecum and the large colon. In an average horse, the cecum is a 3 foot long sock-shaped part of the large intestine that contains bacteria that digests plant fibers.

Ingesta (ingested material such as feed) from the small intestine empties into the cecum through a thickened muscular valve. Ingesta is mixed, and then emptied through a second valve into the large colon. The cecum's role overlaps that of the large colon. It is involved in the fermentation, digestion, and absorption of nutrients as well as water and electrolyte balance.

The cecum can distend with gas, twist, lose its blood supply, be impacted, accumulate sand, and telescope in on itself. Perhaps the best known cecal condition is impaction, which tends to occur in horses that are stall confined and rehabilitating from other injuries, particularly following orthopedic surgery.

One important aspect of cecal disorders is that the gastrointestinal tract can function (albeit poorly) with an ongoing obstruction of the cecum. This can make veterinary diagnosis difficult. Likewise, the external signs of cecal disorders look no different to the untrained eye from any other condition that causes signs of abdominal pain (colic).

my vet's role



Other conditions or ailments that might also need to be ruled out by a vet.

Very Common
Less Common
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Diagnostics Used

These are tests that might be helpful to make this diagnosis or further characterize the condition.

Very Common
Less Common
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Depends upon the specific condition. Most cecal disorders require surgery.

my role

Questions To Ask Your Vet:
  • Why do you believe my horse has a cecal disorder?

Provide adequate exercise to stabled horses. Be on the lookout for conditions causing colic in horses recovering from other injuries.

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP