Stress fractures of the tibia and humerus in Thoroughbred racehorses: 99 cases (1992–2000)

Christopher B. O'Sullivan Randwick Equine Centre, 3 Jane St, Randwick, NSW 2035, Australia.
Present address is Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210-1089.

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Jonathan M. Lumsden Randwick Equine Centre, 3 Jane St, Randwick, NSW 2035, Australia.

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Abstract

Objective—To determine clinical characteristics of and outcome in Thoroughbred racehorses with tibial or humeral stress fractures.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—99 Thoroughbreds with tibial or humeral stress fractures.

Procedure—Information obtained from the medical records included history, signalment, and clinical, radiographic, and scintigraphic findings. Outcome was determined by interviewing trainers, performing follow- up examinations, and analyzing race records.

Results—Seventy-four tibial stress fractures were identified in 61 Thoroughbreds, and 48 humeral stress fractures were identified in 39 Thoroughbreds (1 horse was included in both groups). Tibial stress fractures occurred most commonly in 2-year-old or unraced horses. Fractures were located in 1 of 3 sites in the tibia (most commonly, the caudolateral cortex of the mid-diaphysis) and 1 of 4 sites in the humerus (most commonly, the caudodistal cortex). Forty-four of 58 (76%) tibial stress fractures and 18 of 32 (56%) humeral stress fractures were identified radiographically. Humeral stress fractures involving the caudodistal cortex were not detected radiographically. Treatment consisted of rest and exercise restriction, and 49 of 61 (80%) horses with tibial stress fractures and 30 of 39 (77%) horses with humeral stress fractures returned to racing. Humeral stress fractures recurred in 6 horses.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that in Thoroughbred racehorses, tibial stress fractures occurred most commonly in unraced 2 year olds, whereas humeral fractures occurred most commonly in older horses that had raced previously. The prognosis for racing following treatment was good. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;222:491–498)

Abstract

Objective—To determine clinical characteristics of and outcome in Thoroughbred racehorses with tibial or humeral stress fractures.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—99 Thoroughbreds with tibial or humeral stress fractures.

Procedure—Information obtained from the medical records included history, signalment, and clinical, radiographic, and scintigraphic findings. Outcome was determined by interviewing trainers, performing follow- up examinations, and analyzing race records.

Results—Seventy-four tibial stress fractures were identified in 61 Thoroughbreds, and 48 humeral stress fractures were identified in 39 Thoroughbreds (1 horse was included in both groups). Tibial stress fractures occurred most commonly in 2-year-old or unraced horses. Fractures were located in 1 of 3 sites in the tibia (most commonly, the caudolateral cortex of the mid-diaphysis) and 1 of 4 sites in the humerus (most commonly, the caudodistal cortex). Forty-four of 58 (76%) tibial stress fractures and 18 of 32 (56%) humeral stress fractures were identified radiographically. Humeral stress fractures involving the caudodistal cortex were not detected radiographically. Treatment consisted of rest and exercise restriction, and 49 of 61 (80%) horses with tibial stress fractures and 30 of 39 (77%) horses with humeral stress fractures returned to racing. Humeral stress fractures recurred in 6 horses.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that in Thoroughbred racehorses, tibial stress fractures occurred most commonly in unraced 2 year olds, whereas humeral fractures occurred most commonly in older horses that had raced previously. The prognosis for racing following treatment was good. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;222:491–498)

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