Success Story: Colic & Lipoma Surgery

Owner Steve Ellis and Cowboy one day after surgery

One Sunday evening, Steve Ellis came home to find his horse, Cowboy, showing clinical signs of colic; lying down and with signs of general uneasiness. Ellis knew to call the vet and walk him, but his primary care veterinarian was on another house call. The walking didn’t help much – Cowboy continued to lie down, and eventually, Ellis lay down with him until his veterinarian came.

When Cowboy’s abdomen began to swell, Cowboy was referred to the UF Large Animal Hospital, where they took him into surgery immediately.

“When we got in, the veterinarian said he needs to go to surgery right away so I said ‘go on then,’” Ellis said.

The surgeons David Freeman, DVM, DACVS, and Andrew Smith, DVM, found a lipoma (a fatty tumor) with a long stalk that had wrapped around and strangulated a section of the small colon.

“We removed approximately one foot of the small colon,” Freeman said. “It is unusual to find a lipoma strangulating the small colon, and they are far more common in the small intestine. The reasons for this difference is unknown. We found many other lipomas throughout the attachments of the small intestine and these were removed to prevent future problems with them.”

Ellis left for the night when the surgery was completed and Cowboy awoke and was cared for by the 24/7 veterinary staff at UF.

His postoperative recovery was smooth and free of complications, and Cowboy brightened up when Ellis came in to visit him the following day.

Owner Steve Ellis and Cowboy 1st place Best of Show July 4 Parade

“When I came to the front desk, they told me Cowboy was anxious to see me,” Ellis said, “and when I saw him, he perked right up and got excited like he didn’t even have surgery less than 24 hours before.”

The veterinarians at UF believe that horses recover better when they are in their normal surroundings, and because Cowboy was doing so well, he was able to return home just two days after the surgery. The veterinarians sent Cowboy home with mineral oil to help soften his feces, and recommended to continue feeding him grass, then feeding him hay slowly over the next few days.

“No surgery is considered a small ordeal,” Freeman said, “but with the unusual location of Cowboy’s strangulating lipoma, along with how quickly he recovered, Cowboy definitely made it interesting.”

Cowboy continues to be a friend to Ellis and the community, participating in parades and being the perfect horse for children as well.
“We’re lucky to have him back with us, doing what he loves, and we love being a part of his life.” Ellis said. “We couldn’t be happier with UF for everything they did to bring Cowboy home.”

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