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The association between gastric ulceration and clinical signs in adult horses

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Title: The association between gastric ulceration and clinical signs in adult horses
Author(s): Forsman, Cecilia
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Equine and Small Animal Medicine
Discipline: Equine Internal Medicine
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2014
Clinical signs associated with equine gastric ulceration are commonly reported in the literature, but are vague and often unsubstantiated. Clinical signs of gastric ulceration in yearlings and mature horses are less well recognized than in foals, but may be more important economically. There are no studies in the literature that have investigated the statistical association between clinical signs and gastric ulceration. The aim of this study was to determine whether there is a statistical association between commonly reported clinical signs of gastric ulceration and gastric ulcer severity as determined by endoscopic examination of the stomach. The hypothesis of this study was that there is no association between the severity of gastric ulceration and the owners perception of clinical signs of gastric ulceration. To achieve statistical significance, the study included 100 horses. A gastroscopic examination was performed on all the horses and documented on video. Owners were then asked to fill in a questionnaire documenting the clinical signs exhibited by their horses in the 3 months prior to the examination. The ulcers where graded into four categories1) presence or absence of gastric ulcers; 2) presence or absence of clinical significant gastric ulcers (i.e. needing treatment or not); 3) presence or absence of glandular ulcers; and 4) presence or absence of non-glandular ulcers. The four categories where compared to the clinical signs using a Pearson Chi-Square or Mann- Whitney U-test. Significance was set at p<0.05. A statistical association was found between clinical significant ulcers and losing weight (p=0,01) and between ulcer or no ulcer and losing weight (p=0,051). The results suggest that an owners perception of their horse losing weight could be associated with the presence of gastric ulcers and an increased severity of gastric ulcers, and can be used as an indication to perform gastroscopy on these individuals. There was no association between gastric ulcer severity and the owners perception of colic, crib-biting, flank-biting, fussy eating, changes in behaviour, chronic diarrhoea, bruxism, poor body condition, poor coat condition and poor performance, and requests from owners to have gastroscopy performed on their horses based upon these clinical signs should be approached with caution.
Keyword(s): equine gastric ulceration clinical sign statistics

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