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One way to determine if your horse is normal and healthy is to evaluate the rumblings of his gut. The technical term for a gut sound is a borborygmus (pronounced bôr′bə-rĭg′məs). The plural is borborygmi. During a physical exam a veterinarian will listen to your horse’s gut sounds with a stethoscope in the flank area to determine if normal borborygmi are present. When listening for gut sounds, both sides of the horse are evaluated and the abdomen is divided into four areas or quadrants. A healthy horse will have consistent and active rumblings in each of the four quadrants. Each area should be evaluated for at least one minute. As a general rule, it is normal to hear 1 to 3 borborygmi in a 60-second period. If less than 1 borborygmus is heard per minute then that portion of the gut is noted as hypomotile (not enough movement). If more than 3 borborygmi are heard per minute the area is noted as hypermotile (too much movement). Of course, there are variations depending on the individual horse and when he or she last ate.
Typically when a horse presents with impending enterocolitis, which often results in diarrhea, he will have a hypermotile gut with increased liquid and gas sounds. Hypermotility can be present in the early stages of obstructive disease. Hypomotility, however, is the sign of a poor gut movement and an absence of gut sounds may indicate the presence of an obstruction...
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