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A retrospective study of mortality associated with general anaesthesia in horses: emergency procedures
  1. A. M. Mee, BVSc, CertVA, MRCVS1,
  2. P. J. Cripps, BSc, BVSc, MSc, PhD, MRCVS2 and
  3. R. S. Jones, MVSc, DrMedVet, DVSc,DVA, MRCA, FIBiol, DipECVA, FRCVS1
  1. 1 Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Liverpool, Merseyside L69 3BX
  2. 2 Department of Veterinary Clinical Science and Animal Husbandry, Leahurst, Neston, South Wirral, Merseyside L64 7TE


A retrospective study evaluated 995 emergency equine general anaesthetics. The total mortality for emergency procedures was 31.4 per cent. This figure was examined in more detail to determine if all emergency procedures. carried a similar risk. Horses anaesthetised for surgical colic had an increased risk of death or euthanasia, with a total mortality of 35.5 per cent when compared to horses anaesthetised for non-colic related problems which had a total mortality of 15.3 per cent. The findings of this study illustrate the greatly increased risk of mortality in horses undergoing general anaesthesia for emergency procedures. Mortality is 4.25 times more likely for emergency procedures not associated with colic than for similar procedures carried out electively. Emergency general anaesthesia for colic carries an increased risk of mortality of 9-86 times that of elective cases.

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