Epidemiological Studies Into Orthopaedic Conditions of the Equine Athlete

Pickersgill, Chris H (2000) Epidemiological Studies Into Orthopaedic Conditions of the Equine Athlete. MVM(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The objectives of this study were to make quantitative and qualitative measurements of the frequency of occurrence of: 1) fractures among Thoroughbred (TB) flat racehorses in the United Kingdom (UK); 2) forelimb superficial digital flexor (SDF) tendinitis among National Hunt (NH) TB racehorses in the UK; and 3) developmental orthopaedic disease (DOD) among TB foals in the Hunter Valley, Australia. Several epidemiological risk factors were investigated to determine any association with the occurrence of fractures among flat racehorses. Two aspects of diagnostic ultrasonography were also investigated: 1) repeatability of the technique; and 2) the early detection acute tendinitis. Prospective data was recorded over 12 and eight-month periods for two flat racing yards, to determine the incidence of fractures and associated epidemiological risk factors. Group 1 horses sustained 18 fractures among 209 horses (8.6%), compared with four fractures out of 82 horses in Group 2 (4.9%). Overall fracture incidence for the two groups was 7.6% of all horses. Of the 22 fractures reported, 18 (81.8%) occurred following training exercise and four (18.2%) following a race. Overall fracture rates were 0.04 cases/100 training days and 0.4 cases/100 racing days. Carpal and pelvic fractures were reported most frequently. There were no significant differences in age or gender distributions between case and control horses. Equitrack surfaces may have a protective effect in reducing the occurrence of fractures. Ninety-six NH racehorses underwent four ultrasonographic examinations over a 12-month period, to quantify the incidence of acute and chronic SDF tendinitis. Repeat examinations of some horses by two examiners provided data to determine the repeatability of ultrasonography. A total of 41 horses (43%) showed evidence of either acute tendinitis (25 horses - 26%), chronic tendinitis (12 horses - 13%), or an acute exacerbation of a chronic injury (4 horses - 4%). Acute SDF tendinitis occurred most frequently unilaterally (17/25 horses - 68%), while 12/16 (75%) of chronic/chronic recurrent injuries were bilateral. Increasing age increased the likelihood of developing acute or chronic SDF tendinitis, while female (versus male) gender increased the likelihood of developing acute SDF tendinitis. SDF tendon cross-sectional area (CSA) values did not change significantly prior to the onset of acute tendinitis. Variation in ultrasonographic imaging occurred between operators during image measurement, but not between operators during image acquisition, or between different analytical equipment. Retrospective and prospective data were collected from stud farms in the Hunter Valley, to determine the incidence of DOD. Retrospective data from an equine hospital was also used to determine the frequency of surgical intervention for the treatment of DOD, over a 9-year period. Angular limb deformities were the most frequently reported DOD. There was a statistically significant increase in the number of confirmed cases of osteochondrosis (OC) from 1990 - 1996. Similarly, the number of arthroscopic procedures undertaken in the diagnosis and/or treatment of OC increased from 1988 - 1996. In conclusion, the collection of retrospective and prospective data enabled the calculation of baseline incidence rates for several orthopaedic conditions and revealed various associations between individual variables and the occurrence of the particular disease. Increasing awareness of the epidemiological investigative principles and analytical techniques available to the research community will provide the opportunity to further our understanding of equine orthopaedic disease.

Item Type: Thesis (MVM(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Adviser: Reid Stuart
Keywords: Veterinary science
Date of Award: 2000
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2000-75954
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2019 17:13
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2019 17:13
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/75954

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