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Racing prognosis after cumulative stress-induced injury of the distal portion of the third metacarpal and third metatarsal bones in Thoroughbred racehorses: 55 cases (2000–2009)

Travis M. TullRood and Riddle Equine Hospital, 2150 Georgetown Rd, Lexington, KY 40580.

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Lawrence R. BramlageRood and Riddle Equine Hospital, 2150 Georgetown Rd, Lexington, KY 40580.

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Abstract

Objective—To evaluate the diagnostic features, results of free-choice exercise treatment, prognosis, and postinjury racing performance of Thoroughbred racehorses with cumulative stress-induced bone injury (CSBI) of the distal portion of the third metacarpal and third metatarsal bones (MC3/MT3).

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—55 Thoroughbred racehorses with CSBI of the distal portion of MC3/MT3.

Procedures—Data on signalment, history, and radiographic, scintigraphic, and lameness examination findings were reviewed. Horses with lameness localized to the distal portion of MC3/MT3, and that did not have concurrent lameness but did have radiographic and nuclear scintigraphic changes consistent with CSBI, were included in the study. Information on pre-and postinjury racing performance was acquired from race records.

Results—Mean age was 3.2 years (median, 3 years [range, 2 to 6 years]). Ninety-five percent (52/55) of horses with CSBI raced after injury. Males were more commonly affected (75% [41/55]) than were females (25% [14/55]; odds ratio, 3.99 [95% confidence interval, 2.17 to 7.34]). There was no significant difference in postinjury total earnings, compared with total earnings before injury; horses had significantly more starts and less earnings per start after injury. Median time to first start after injury was 194 days. Of 45 horses that raced before and after injury, 31 % (14/45) had an increase in racing class, 31 % (14/45) had no change in class, and 38% (17/45) had a decrease in class.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Thoroughbred racehorses with CSBI of the distal portion of MC3/MT3 treated with free-choice exercise had a favorable prognosis with no appreciable decrease in class or performance.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate the diagnostic features, results of free-choice exercise treatment, prognosis, and postinjury racing performance of Thoroughbred racehorses with cumulative stress-induced bone injury (CSBI) of the distal portion of the third metacarpal and third metatarsal bones (MC3/MT3).

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—55 Thoroughbred racehorses with CSBI of the distal portion of MC3/MT3.

Procedures—Data on signalment, history, and radiographic, scintigraphic, and lameness examination findings were reviewed. Horses with lameness localized to the distal portion of MC3/MT3, and that did not have concurrent lameness but did have radiographic and nuclear scintigraphic changes consistent with CSBI, were included in the study. Information on pre-and postinjury racing performance was acquired from race records.

Results—Mean age was 3.2 years (median, 3 years [range, 2 to 6 years]). Ninety-five percent (52/55) of horses with CSBI raced after injury. Males were more commonly affected (75% [41/55]) than were females (25% [14/55]; odds ratio, 3.99 [95% confidence interval, 2.17 to 7.34]). There was no significant difference in postinjury total earnings, compared with total earnings before injury; horses had significantly more starts and less earnings per start after injury. Median time to first start after injury was 194 days. Of 45 horses that raced before and after injury, 31 % (14/45) had an increase in racing class, 31 % (14/45) had no change in class, and 38% (17/45) had a decrease in class.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Thoroughbred racehorses with CSBI of the distal portion of MC3/MT3 treated with free-choice exercise had a favorable prognosis with no appreciable decrease in class or performance.

Contributor Notes

The authors thank Drs. Katherine Garrett and J. Brett Woodie for technical assistance and Dr. Arnold Stromberg for statistical assistance.

Both authors contributed equally to the study.

Address correspondence to Dr. Tull (ttull@roodandriddle.com).