Simple Summary Gastrointestinal diseases are the most prevalent diseases in hospitalized horses. One of the predisposing factors of decreased intestinal motility in horses with colic could be low plasma calcium concentration and related magnesium imbalances. Magnesium and calcium disturbances can predispose to decreased intestinal motility in horses with colic after abdominal surgery. Plasma ionized magnesium concentrations were measured in hospitalized horses with different types of gastrointestinal disorders (i.e., colic), horses with non-gastrointestinal diseases, horses with systemic inflammatory conditions and control horses; our results allowed us to conclude that hypomagnesemia was more prevalent in horses with obstructive gastrointestinal lesions. Surprisingly, no association was found with systemic inflammatory conditions nor with mortality. These valuable results suggest to us that magnesium concentrations in horses presenting obstructive colic should be monitored. Further research is needed to evaluate the effects of intravenous magnesium supplementation in horses with gastrointestinal diseases. Magnesium disorders in horses with gastrointestinal disorders or systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) are scarcely characterized. The purpose of the study was to explore the association of magnesium disorders with diagnosis, SIRS and mortality in horses admitted to a referral equine hospital. In total, 75 sick horses were included in an observational prospective study and classified as: obstructive (n = 17), inflammatory (n = 10) and ischemic gastrointestinal disorders (n = 12), and other non-gastrointestinal systemic disorders (n = 36). All sick horses were also divided according to the presence (n = 26) or absence of SIRS, and survival to discharge from hospital (survivors (n = 61) and non-survivors (n = 14). In addition, 26 horses were included as controls. On admission, mean (iMg) (95% confidence interval (CI)) in the SIRS group (0.47 (0.43-0.50 mmol/L)) was within the normal range (0.4-0.6 mmol/L). The obstructive group had lower (iMg) compared to the control group (0.44 (0.38-0.51 mmol/L) vs. 0.56 (0.50-0.61 mmol/L); p = 0.001). In total, 8 out of 17 (47%) horses with obstructive lesions presented with hypomagnesemia compared to controls (4% (1/26)) (p = 0.001). In conclusion, hypomagnesemia was more prevalent on admission in horses in the obstructive group, and to a lesser extent, in the inflammatory and ischemic groups. In contrast to human ICU patients, the proportion of hospitalized horses with hypomagnesemia was not associated with mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1479
Number of pages10
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022


  • electrolytes
  • equine
  • gastrointestinal disorders
  • hypocalcemia
  • hypomagnesemia


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