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Diagnostic findings and prognosis following arthroscopic treatment of subtle osteochondral lesions in the shoulder joint of horses: 15 cases (1996–1999)

Patricia S. Doyle DVM, MS1 and Nathaniel A. White II DVM, MS, DACVS2
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  • 1 Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center, Virginia- Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech, Leesburg, VA 20177.
  • | 2 Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center, Virginia- Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech, Leesburg, VA 20177.

Abstract

Objective—To determine clinical, scintigraphic, radiographic, and arthroscopic findings and results of treatment in horses with lameness attributable to subtle osteochondral lesions of the shoulder joint.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—15 horses.

Procedure—Medical records were reviewed, and results of physical examination, scintigraphy, radiography, arthroscopy, and treatment were recorded.

Results—Severity of lameness ranged from grade 1 to 4. Response to shoulder flexion or extension was variable. Twelve horses had a narrow upright foot. Intra-articular anesthesia of the shoulder joint localized the cause of the lameness to the shoulder joint in 9 of 10 horses. Scintigraphic abnormalities were detected in 4 of 6 horses. Radiographic lesions were subtle and included glenoid sclerosis, focal glenoid lysis, small glenoid cysts, and alterations in the humeral head contour. Arthroscopic evaluation confirmed clefts in the glenoid cartilage, glenoid cysts, a humeral head cyst, fibrillation of the humeral head cartilage, cartilage fragmentation, or a nondisplaced fracture of the humeral head. After treatment, 12 horses returned to their previous level of performance, 1 was sound for light riding, 1 remained lame, and 1 was euthanatized because of chronic lameness.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that a combination of physical examination, scintigraphy, and radiography is necessary to diagnose subtle osteochondral lesions of the shoulder joint in horses. Arthroscopy can be used to confirm the diagnosis and treat cartilage and subchondral bone lesions. Young and middle-aged horses with subtle osteochondral lesions of the shoulder joints have a good prognosis for return to performance following arthroscopic treatment. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;217:1878–1882)

Abstract

Objective—To determine clinical, scintigraphic, radiographic, and arthroscopic findings and results of treatment in horses with lameness attributable to subtle osteochondral lesions of the shoulder joint.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—15 horses.

Procedure—Medical records were reviewed, and results of physical examination, scintigraphy, radiography, arthroscopy, and treatment were recorded.

Results—Severity of lameness ranged from grade 1 to 4. Response to shoulder flexion or extension was variable. Twelve horses had a narrow upright foot. Intra-articular anesthesia of the shoulder joint localized the cause of the lameness to the shoulder joint in 9 of 10 horses. Scintigraphic abnormalities were detected in 4 of 6 horses. Radiographic lesions were subtle and included glenoid sclerosis, focal glenoid lysis, small glenoid cysts, and alterations in the humeral head contour. Arthroscopic evaluation confirmed clefts in the glenoid cartilage, glenoid cysts, a humeral head cyst, fibrillation of the humeral head cartilage, cartilage fragmentation, or a nondisplaced fracture of the humeral head. After treatment, 12 horses returned to their previous level of performance, 1 was sound for light riding, 1 remained lame, and 1 was euthanatized because of chronic lameness.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that a combination of physical examination, scintigraphy, and radiography is necessary to diagnose subtle osteochondral lesions of the shoulder joint in horses. Arthroscopy can be used to confirm the diagnosis and treat cartilage and subchondral bone lesions. Young and middle-aged horses with subtle osteochondral lesions of the shoulder joints have a good prognosis for return to performance following arthroscopic treatment. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;217:1878–1882)