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

Your vet may diagnose

Diaphragmatic Hernia, Ruptured Diaphragm


This is a very rare condition in which there is rupture of the diaphragm, the muscular sheet that separates the thorax from the abdomen and is responsible for breathing. A break in the diaphragm allows the intestine to move forward and occupy the chest. The tear itself is painful, and the intestine moving out of position causes colic and difficulty breathing.

A tear of the diaphragm is most common after a traumatic injury, serious fall, or intense exercise like jumping. In addition, congenital diaphragmatic hernia occurs and can affect foals.

Diagnosis of this condition can be challenging, and is often only definitively established at surgery or postmortem.

my vet's role


Guarded even with surgical repair. Depends on the severity of the injury. Poor without surgery.

my role

Questions To Ask Your Vet:
  • Do you advise exploratory surgery?

further reading & resources

Related References:

Higgins AJ, Snyder JR eds. The Equine Manual. 2nd Ed. Edinburgh: Elsevier Saunders 2006.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP