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Sensitivity and specificity of blood leukocyte counts as an indicator of mortality in horses after colic surgery
  1. A. Salciccia, DVM, MSc1,2,
  2. C. Sandersen, DVM, PhD, Dip ECEIM1,2,
  3. S. Grulke, DVM, PhD, Dip ECVS1,2,
  4. G. de la Rebière de Pouyade, DVM, PhD1,2,
  5. I. Caudron, DVM, PhD, Dip ECVS1,
  6. D. Serteyn, DVM, PhD, Dip ECVAA1,2 and
  7. J. Detilleux, DVM, PhD, Dip. ECVPH3
  1. 1Department of Companion Animals and Equids, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, B41, Equine Clinic, University of Liège, Sart Tilman, Liège 4000, Belgium
  2. 2Center for Oxygen Research and Development, Institute of Chemistry, B6a, University of Liège, Sart Tilman, Liège 4000, Belgium
  3. 3Quantitative Genetics group, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, B43, University of Liège, Sart Tilman, Liège 4000, Belgium
  1. E-mail for correspondence: Alexandra.Salciccia{at}


The objectives of this study were to describe and relate perioperative changes in blood leukocyte counts to the outcome of surgical colic horses, determine a cut-off value in the early postoperative period to obtain an indicator of the outcome, and compare the obtained value to a validation population of horses. Fifty-three horses undergoing colic surgery were included in the descriptive part of the study. Total leukocyte counts were performed before, during and serially after surgery. A receiver operating characteristic analysis was performed on the leukocyte counts of 45 of these horses to determine a cut-off value for the outcome. The results obtained were validated on a second set of 50 horses that underwent colic surgery in similar conditions. The kinetics of blood leukocytes in survivors was higher than in non-survivors during the first days. Non-survivor horses were more likely to have at least one blood leukocyte count ≤3.9×103/mm3 between 28 and 60 hours after surgery than survivor horses. This cut-off value was confirmed in the validation population. These results suggest that routine values of blood leukocyte counts can be used as an additional prognostic indicator after colic surgery alongside other predictors previously associated with the outcome.

  • Surgery
  • Haematology
  • Colic
  • Horses
  • Intensive care
  • Statistics
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