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

Your vet may diagnose

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.

my vet's role



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

Very Common
Less Common
more diagnoses


The prognosis for this displacement is good when promptly corrected at surgery.

Large bodied breeds like Warmbloods are probably predisposed to developing this condition. Post-foaling mares may also have a predisposition for this type of displacement.

my role


I might observe

You might make these observations when a horse has this condition.

Very Common
Less Common
more observations

Questions To Ask Your Vet:
  • What is the likelihood of recurrence of this displacement?
  • What management changes can I make to reduce the likelihood of recurrence?

All of the factors that reduce the likelihood of colic and favor intestinal health reduce the likelihood of this displacement.

further reading & resources

Related References:

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.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP