To provide a postmortem description of anatomic variations and changes of the lumbosacroiliac region in horses. The authors hypothesized that lesion severity would increase with age and body weight and correlate to anatomic variations.
Lumbosacroiliac vertebral specimens from 38 horses (mean age, 16 years; range, 5 to 30 years) that died or were euthanized for reasons unrelated to the study between November 2019 and October 2021.
The lumbosacroiliac region of the vertebral column was removed from each cadaver. After dissection, disarticulation, and boiling, the anatomic specimens were examined for anatomic variations and osseous changes of the articular process joints (APJs), intertransverse joints (ITJs), and sacroiliac joints (SIJs). The lengths of L6-S1 intertransverse articular surfaces were measured and their ratios calculated. Descriptive statistics were obtained, and the χ2 test was used to assess differences in anatomic variations and abnormal changes of the APJs, ITJs, and SIJs.
The most common anatomic variation was a sacrum-like shape of the transverse processes of L6 (29/38 [76%]) and converging orientation of dorsal spinous process of L6 (33/38 [87%]). The highest prevalence of bony changes was detected at L5-L6 (right, 34/38 [89%]; left, 33/38 [87%]) and L6-S1 APJs (right, 38/38 [100%]; left, 37/38 [97%]) and at SIJs (right, 32/38 [86%]; left, 31/38 [82%]). The shape of L6 transverse processes differed between breed (P = .01) and was associated with presence of L4-L5 ITJs (P < .01).
Age and sex were associated with changes of the sacral dorsal spinous processes, ITJs, and APJs. The clinical significance of these findings could not be confirmed based on the study limitations.