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Multicenter case-control study of signalment, diagnostic features, and outcome associated with cervical vertebral malformation-malarticulation in horses

Jonathan M. Levine DVM, DACVIM1, Peter V. Scrivani DVM, DACVR2, Thomas J. Divers DVM, DACVIM3, Martin Furr DVM, PHD, DACVIM4, I. Joe Mayhew BVSC, PhD, DSC, DACVIM5, Stephen Reed DVM, DACVIM6, Gwendolyn J. Levine DVM7, Jonathan H. Foreman DVM, MS, DACVIM8, Christen Boudreau DVM, PHD9, Brent C. Credille DVM10, Brett Tennent-Brown DipSc, BVSc, DACVIM11, and Noah D. Cohen VMD, MPH, PhD, DACVIM12
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  • 1 Departments of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843.
  • | 2 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.
  • | 3 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.
  • | 4 Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech and University of Maryland, Blacksburg, VA 24061.
  • | 5 Institute of Veterinary, Animal, and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand.
  • | 6 Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, 2150 Georgetown Rd, Lexington, KY 40511.
  • | 7 Veterinary Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843.
  • | 8 the Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801.
  • | 9 Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843.
  • | 10 Department of Large Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.
  • | 11 Department of Large Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.
  • | 12 Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843.

Abstract

Objective—To compare signalment of horses with cervical vertebral malformation-malarticulation (CVM) with that of control horses and to describe results of clinical examination, diagnostic imaging and necropsy findings, and reported outcome in horses with CVM.

Design—Retrospective case-control study.

Animals—270 horses with CVM and 608 control horses admitted to 6 veterinary hospitals from 1992 through 2007.

Procedures—Medical records of participating hospitals were reviewed to identify horses with CVM (ie, case horses) and contemporaneous control (non-CVM-affected) horses that were admitted for treatment. Signalment was compared between case horses and control horses. Results of clinical examination, laboratory and diagnostic imaging findings, necropsy results, and outcome were assessed for horses with CVM.

Results—Case horses were younger (median age, 2 years) than were control horses (median age, 7 years). Thoroughbreds, warmbloods, and Tennessee Walking Horses were overrepresented in the CVM group. Gait asymmetry and cervical hyperesthesia were frequently detected in horses with CVM. Vertebral canal stenosis and articular process osteophytosis were commonly observed at necropsy; agreement between the results of radiographic or myelographic analysis and detection of lesions at necropsy was 65% to 71% and 67% to 78%, respectively. Of 263 horses with CVM for which outcome was recorded, 1 died and 172 (65.4%) were euthanatized.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Odds of a diagnosis of CVM were greater in young horses and horses of specific breeds. Detection of gait asymmetry and cervical hyperesthesia were frequently reported in association with CVM. Accurate diagnosis of lesions associated with CVM by use of radiography and myelography can be challenging. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2010;237:812-822)

Abstract

Objective—To compare signalment of horses with cervical vertebral malformation-malarticulation (CVM) with that of control horses and to describe results of clinical examination, diagnostic imaging and necropsy findings, and reported outcome in horses with CVM.

Design—Retrospective case-control study.

Animals—270 horses with CVM and 608 control horses admitted to 6 veterinary hospitals from 1992 through 2007.

Procedures—Medical records of participating hospitals were reviewed to identify horses with CVM (ie, case horses) and contemporaneous control (non-CVM-affected) horses that were admitted for treatment. Signalment was compared between case horses and control horses. Results of clinical examination, laboratory and diagnostic imaging findings, necropsy results, and outcome were assessed for horses with CVM.

Results—Case horses were younger (median age, 2 years) than were control horses (median age, 7 years). Thoroughbreds, warmbloods, and Tennessee Walking Horses were overrepresented in the CVM group. Gait asymmetry and cervical hyperesthesia were frequently detected in horses with CVM. Vertebral canal stenosis and articular process osteophytosis were commonly observed at necropsy; agreement between the results of radiographic or myelographic analysis and detection of lesions at necropsy was 65% to 71% and 67% to 78%, respectively. Of 263 horses with CVM for which outcome was recorded, 1 died and 172 (65.4%) were euthanatized.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Odds of a diagnosis of CVM were greater in young horses and horses of specific breeds. Detection of gait asymmetry and cervical hyperesthesia were frequently reported in association with CVM. Accurate diagnosis of lesions associated with CVM by use of radiography and myelography can be challenging. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2010;237:812-822)

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Jonathan Levine (jlevine@cvm.tamu.edu).

Supported by the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University. Partial support for Dr. Cohen was provided by the Link Equine Research Endowment.