Article Text

Analysis of peritoneal fluid as a diagnostic aid in grass sickness (equine dysautonomia)
  1. EM Milne,
  2. DL Doxey and
  3. JS Gilmour
  1. Department of Veterinary Clinical Studies, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Roslin, Midlothian.


The analysis of peritoneal fluid is of value in the differential diagnosis of equine colic but its characteristics have not been evaluated in grass sickness. Peritoneal fluid was collected from 15 normal horses and from 11 cases of medical colic, 11 cases of surgical colic, 20 cases of acute grass sickness and 13 cases of subacute grass sickness. The fluid was analysed for its appearance, total and differential white cell count, specific gravity, total protein concentration and total and intestinal alkaline phosphatase activity. Fluid from cases of medical colic was normal in these respects. Surgical cases were unique in having bloodstained fluid with a high alkaline phosphatase activity. Grass sickness cases had a higher specific gravity and protein content than the cases of medical colic although the appearance of the fluid was similar. Grass sickness cases were distinguishable from cases of surgical colic on the basis of the appearance of the fluid and its lower alkaline phosphatase activity.

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