Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Clinical findings and treatment in cattle with caecal dilatation

Ueli Braun*, Christine Beckmann, Christian Gerspach, Michael Hässig, Evelyne Muggli, Gabriela Knubben-Schweizer and Karl Nuss

Author Affiliations

Department of Farm Animals, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

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BMC Veterinary Research 2012, 8:75  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-75

Published: 1 June 2012

Abstract

Background

This retrospective study describes the clinical and laboratory findings, treatment and outcome of 461 cattle with caecal dilatation.

Results

The general condition and demeanor were abnormal in 93.1% of cases, and 32.1% of the patients had colic. Ruminal motility was reduced or absent in 78.3% of cattle. In 82.6% of cases, swinging and/or percussion auscultation were positive on the right side, and 82.4% had little or no faeces in the rectum. Caecal dilatation could be diagnosed via rectal palpation in 405 (88.0%) cattle. There was caudal displacement of the dilated caecum in 291 patients, torsion around the longitudinal axis in 20 and retroflexion in 94. The most important laboratory finding was hypocalcaemia, which occurred in 85.1% of cases. Of the 461 cattle, 122 (26.5%) initially received conservative therapy (intravenous fluids, neostigmine, calcium borogluconate) and 329 (71.4%) underwent surgical treatment. Ten patients were slaughtered or euthanased after the initial physical examination. Of the 122 cattle that received conservative treatment, 42 did not respond after one to two days of therapy and required surgical treatment. The final number of cattle that were operated was 371 (80.5%). Because of a grave prognosis, 24 cases were euthanased or slaughtered intraoperatively. Another 24 cattle did not respond to one or more operations and were euthanased or slaughtered. Of the 461 patients, 403 (87.4%) responded to either conservative or surgical treatment and were cured, and 58 were euthanased or slaughtered.

Conclusions

Caecal dilatation can usually be diagnosed based on clinical findings and treated conservatively or surgically. Swinging and percussion auscultation as well as rectal examination are important diagnostic tools. Conservative treatment is not rewarding in cattle considered surgical candidates with suspected caecal torsion or retroflexion and surgery should not be delayed in these patients.