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Understanding gastric ulceration in horses

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WHAT is the clinical relevance of gastric ulcers in horses? This was the question asked by Richard Hepburn, of the B&W Equine Group in Tetbury, in a plenary lecture entitled ‘After 30 years of gastroscopy, what are we really seeing?’, at the 11th International Colic Research Symposium, held in Dublin last month.

Mr Hepburn discussed current thinking on gastric ulcers but also looked back at published research to give the subject context. He explained that the first paper that had looked at any reasonable number of horses with gastric ulcers had been published in 1986, by Hammond and colleagues. Their results suggested that exercise and diet could have an influence on the prevalence of gastric ulcers.

Subsequently, research published by Murray and others in 1989 compared horses with and without clinical signs. Although horses with clinical signs of gastric ulcers had a higher prevalence of ulcers on endoscopy than those without, almost half the horses without clinical signs also had ulcers. This, Mr Hepburn …

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