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Posted on 03-30-2017

EGUS (Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome)

Ulcers are defects on the gastric lining that can affect the different layers of the stomach even to the point of creating a perforation. EGUS is a term that encompasses the erosion and ulceration of esophageal, stomach, and duodenal mucosa.

These ulcers or erosions are presented when there is an imbalance between PROTECTIVE (bicarbonate, prostaglandins, specialized cells, etc) and AGGRESSIVE factors (Pepsin, hydrochloric acid, etc).

Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome

CAUSES

Many factors can influence the presentation of EGUS, probably the most common are:

  • NSAIDs administration: This type of medications decreases the production of Prostaglandins (PGs). Some of these PGs act as inflammatory mediators, but others have protective effects on stomach and kidneys; thus, it can decrease protection of the stomach mucosa.
  • Exercise: Due to a mechanical effect of exercise the mucosa of the non-glandular area of the stomach is exposed to gastric fluids, the mucosal cells of this area do not have the protection that the cells on the glandular region have and are more prone to lesion due to these acidic fluids.
  • Diet: A high carbohydrate diet can change the stomach pH turning it more acidic increasing the possibility of the stomach mucosa to get damaged. Prolonged fasting periods may predispose to EGUS also.
  • Stress: Stressful episodes may decrease the production of protective factors for the stomach mucosa and expose it to damage from the gastric fluids.

SIGNS

Unspecific signs such as poor appetite, decrease in performance, loss of weight, recurrent mild colic episodes, and discomfort to the pressure of the cranial lower abdominal area can be seen in patients with EGUS.

PREVALENCE

Many breeds are represented, but the possibility of presenting the disease increases with training or competition, sometimes doubling the percentage in some breeds such as Thoroughbreds, Standarbreds, and Endurance horses.

DIAGNOSTICS

Gastroscopy is the most effective antemortem tool to diagnose EGUS.

TREATMENT

The treatment for gastric ulcers is mostly based on gastric mucosa protectans and a change on the diet. The most common products used for EGUS are based on omeprazole or ranitidine, but there are new products such as oral, high-molecullar weight hyaluronic acid that are showing great results in healing gastric ulcers.

FROM US AT Performance Equine Veterinary Services

Gastric ulcers are one of the most common causes for poor performance and recurrent colic emergencies. If you think that your horse may have gastric ulcers and is not responding to treatment our recommendation is to perform full diagnostics to grade the ulcers and recommend the best option for you. Our doctors at PEVS have good experience dealing with this type of cases and we can recommend to you a good therapeutic plan and, depending on the case, new therapeutic options to help your horse with this painful disease.  

Cardona, Guillermo, EGUS (Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome). "EGUS (Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome)." 30 Mar. 2017. Typescript.

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