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Palmar carpal osteochondral fragments in racehorses: 31 cases (1994–2004)

Liberty M. Getman DVM1 and Louise L. Southwood BVSc, PhD, DACVS2
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  • 1 Department of Clinical Studies–New Bolton Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348.
  • | 2 Department of Clinical Studies–New Bolton Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate records of racehorses with palmar carpal osteochondral fragments and determine whether the fragments were indicators of the severity of pathologic joint changes or prognosis.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—31 racehorses.

Procedures—Medical records, radiographs, and videos of arthroscopic procedures were reviewed. Information gathered included signalment; location, number, and size of the primary lesion; number and size of palmar carpal fragments; and details pertaining to surgical procedures. Outcome variables were obtained from race records.

Results—31 horses met the selection criteria. Multiple palmar fragments were diagnosed in 58% of horses; small fragments (< 3 mm in diameter) were most common (52% of horses). Fifty-two percent of the horses returned to racing, 48% returned to racing and earned money, and 32% had at least 5 more starts. Horses with multiple fragments had significantly less earnings per start and lower performance index values after surgery than those with 1 fragment. Horses with palmar fragments < 3 mm in diameter were significantly less likely to return to racing and have 5 starts or to win money after surgery than horses with larger fragments.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Palmar carpal osteochondral fragments can be used as an indicator of clinically important joint pathology and as a prognostic indicator in racehorses. Horses with multiple small fragments were less likely to successfully return to racing than horses with only dorsally located carpal fragments or horses with 1 or 2 large palmar fragments. When possible, removal of palmar carpal osteochondral fragments should be considered.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate records of racehorses with palmar carpal osteochondral fragments and determine whether the fragments were indicators of the severity of pathologic joint changes or prognosis.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—31 racehorses.

Procedures—Medical records, radiographs, and videos of arthroscopic procedures were reviewed. Information gathered included signalment; location, number, and size of the primary lesion; number and size of palmar carpal fragments; and details pertaining to surgical procedures. Outcome variables were obtained from race records.

Results—31 horses met the selection criteria. Multiple palmar fragments were diagnosed in 58% of horses; small fragments (< 3 mm in diameter) were most common (52% of horses). Fifty-two percent of the horses returned to racing, 48% returned to racing and earned money, and 32% had at least 5 more starts. Horses with multiple fragments had significantly less earnings per start and lower performance index values after surgery than those with 1 fragment. Horses with palmar fragments < 3 mm in diameter were significantly less likely to return to racing and have 5 starts or to win money after surgery than horses with larger fragments.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Palmar carpal osteochondral fragments can be used as an indicator of clinically important joint pathology and as a prognostic indicator in racehorses. Horses with multiple small fragments were less likely to successfully return to racing than horses with only dorsally located carpal fragments or horses with 1 or 2 large palmar fragments. When possible, removal of palmar carpal osteochondral fragments should be considered.

Contributor Notes

Presented at the 15th Annual American College of Veterinary Surgeons Symposium, San Diego, October 2005

Address correspondence to Dr. Getman