Colic is a clinical sign or a symptom rather than a diagnosis. The term colic can encompass all forms of gastrointestinal conditions which cause pain as well as other conditions that cause abdominal pain not involving the gastrointestinal tract. The most common forms of colic are gastrointestinal in nature. There are a variety of different causes of colic, some of which require surgical intervention. Colic surgery is major abdominal surgery. Among domesticated horses, colic is a major cause of premature death.
It is important that any person who owns or works with horses be able to recognize the symptoms of colic and knows to call their veterinarian when they occur.