SUCCEED™ EQUINE FAECAL BLOOD TEST
The SUCCEED Equine Faecal Blood Test™ is an accurate, fast (15 minutes), affordable, non-invasive, stall-side test to screen for bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract and a great first step towards diagnosing GI tract conditions such as gastric ulcer syndrome in symptomatic horses.
Equine gastric ulcer syndrome is a disease complex in horses associated with damage to the lining of the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum. Clinical signs are often non-specific and include lack of appetite, weight loss/poor body condition, acute and recurrent colic, loose faeces, poor performance and changes in attitude. The non-specific nature of the clinical signs associated with gastric ulceration often leads owners and veterinarians to suspect gastric ulceration as a cause of poor condition and poor performance in horses.
Definitive diagnosis of equine gastric ulcers is based upon endoscopic examination of the stomach with a 3m gastroendoscope and this test can be arranged through our clinic. It is necessary to withhold food for 6-12 hours before the examination. The horse is sedated, twitched and the gastroscope is passed up the nostril, down the oesophagus and into the stomach. The stomach is insufflated with air to allow visualisation of the entire lining. Any lesions are then assessed based on their location and severity and a treatment plan is formulated bearing this in mind.
When examination of the stomach using a gastroendoscope has been cost prohibitive for a client, we have in the past, made a presumptive diagnosis of ulcers based on the clinical history of the horse and it’s clinical signs. Before the SUCCEED Equine Faecal Blood Test™ became commercially available, initiation of a treatment trial was a pragmatic and reasonable course of action.
The SUCCEED™ test offers us the ability to quickly and accurately screen for gastric ulcers in the field without necessitating the use of a treatment trial. To understand how this is possible, it’s important to understand how the SUCCEED™ test actually works. The test uses purified antibodies against albumin and haemoglobin to detect these substances in a faecal sample. Albumin and haemoglobin are marker proteins found in blood. When a horse is suffering from gastric ulcers, haemoglobin will be detected in it’s faeces. So, if the test returns a negative for haemoglobin, the horse is unlikely to be afflicted with gastric ulcers.
In such a case, we would be confident dispensing with the need for an endoscopic examination or treatment trial and instead recommend another course of investigation, thereby saving the owner valuable time and money.
Another strength of the SUCCEED™ test is its’ ability to detect albumin as well as haemoglobin. This means the test has the capacity to help us distinguish foregut from hindgut lesions in the equine GI tract. Albumin is known to be degraded by enzymes in the stomach and small intestine so if albumin is detected in faeces, we know that it has emanated from a hindgut lesion in the large intestine. This is an invaluable tool for us as veterinarians when we are working through complex clinical scenarios involving the GI tract.