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Objective—To evaluate a modified digital imaging technique for quantitative assessment of the grade of osteoarthritis across the proximal articular surface of the first phalanx in horses.

Sample Population—6 metacarpophalangeal (fetlock) joint specimens from 6 horses with various stages of osteoarthritis.

Procedure—First phalanx specimens, together with 4 gray scale reference calibration targets, were positioned in a bath with the proximal articular cartilage surface submerged in saline (0.9% NaCl) solution. Digital images were obtained from the articular surface before and after staining with Indian ink. Computer-controlled gray level analysis of the nonstained and Indian ink-stained cartilage surfaces and gray scale reference calibration targets was performed by use of the mean pixel value (based on 255-gray scale). An increase in the mean pixel value after staining was used to calculate the cartilage degeneration index (CDI).

Results—The CDI of the proximal articular cartilage surface of the first phalanx specimens ranged from 9.2 ± 5.7 (early stage osteoarthritis) to 41.5 ± 3.6% (late stage osteoarthritis). The effect of repeating the measurement 6 times in nonstained (including repositioning) and stained specimens (including repositioning and restaining) was not significant. Up to 10 measurements of nonstained specimens could be made without refreshing the bath solution. In stained specimens, mean gray level increased significantly after the sixth measurement.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—The modified digital imaging technique allowed quantitative assessment of cartilage degeneration across the articular cartilage surface. The CDI is the first quantitative measure for osteoarthritis-induced cartilage degeneration over an entire joint surface in horses. (Am J Vet Res 2003;64:83–87)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To assess whether reported alterations in metabolism of cartilage matrix in young (0 to 24 months old) horses with osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) may also be found in older (24 to 48 months old) horses with clinical signs of OCD and to investigate the role of eicosanoids in initiating these clinical signs.

Sample Population—Synovial fluid was collected from 38 tarsocrural joints of 24 warmblood horses with (22 joints of 16 horses) or without (16 joints of 8 horses) clinical signs and a radiographic diagnosis of OCD of the distal intermediate ridge of the tibia.

Procedures—Turnover of type II collagen was investigated by use of specific immunoassays for synthesis (carboxypropeptide of type II collagen [CPII]) and degradation (collagenase-cleaved fragments of type II collagen [C2C]) products. Furthermore, glycosaminoglycan (GAG), leukotriene (LT) B4, cysteinyl LTs, and prostaglandin (PG) E2 concentrations were determined, and concentrations in joints with OCD were compared with those in joints without OCD.

Results—Concentrations of CPII, C2C, and GAG did not differ significantly between affected and nonaffected joints. Fluid from joints with OCD had significantly higher LTB4 and PGE2 concentrations than did fluids from nonaffected joints.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Altered collagen or proteoglycan turnover was not detected in 24- to 48-month-old horses at the time they developed clinical signs of OCD of the distal intermediate ridge of the tibia. However, increased concentrations of LTB4 and PGE2 in fluid of joints with OCD implicate these mediators in the initiation of clinical signs of OCD.

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research



To improve fracture treatment, in vitro experiments were performed to study the influence of a full limb cast and a walking cast on the loading regimen of bones in the distal portion of the equine forelimb.


6 forelimbs of 6 Shetland ponies.


Loading of the third metacarpal bone was considered a representative measure for distal limb loading. Electrical resistance rosette strain gauges were attached to the dorsal, palmar, medial, and lateral surfaces of the midshaft of this bone in 6 forelimbs of 6 Shetland ponies. The limbs were tested in a pneumatic loading device to a maximal load of 1,500 N.


Both casts decreased the amount of compressive forces acting on the metacarpal bone. Application of a full limb cast resulted in a variable and eccentric decrease, remaining strains ranging from 84 to 7% of the baseline value. A walking cast was superior in that it gave a centric and more uniform reduction of compressive loading to <11 % of the baseline value. Moreover, a walking cast neutralized the bending and torsion components of the loading.


This study confirmed the clinical experience that a walking cast creates more reliable and favorable conditions for healing of fractures than does a full limb cast. (Am J Vet Res 1996;57:1386-1389)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To determine the speed of sound (SOS) in equine articular cartilage and investigate the influence of age, site in the joint, and cartilage degeneration on the SOS.

Sample Population—Cartilage samples from 38 metacarpophalangeal joints of 38 horses (age range, 5 months to 22 years).

Procedure—Osteochondral plugs were collected from 2 articular sites of the proximal phalanx after the degenerative state was characterized by use of the cartilage degeneration index (CDI) technique. The SOS was calculated (ratio of needle-probe cartilage thickness to time of flight of the ultrasound pulse), and relationships between SOS value and age, site, and cartilage degeneration were evaluated. An analytical model of cartilage indentation was used to evaluate the effect of variation in true SOS on the determination of cartilage thickness and dynamic modulus with the ultrasound indentation technique.

Results—The mean SOS for all samples was 1,696 ± 126 m/s. Age, site, and cartilage degeneration had no significant influence on the SOS in cartilage. The analytical model revealed that use of the mean SOS of 1,696 m/s was associated with maximum errors of 17.5% on cartilage thickness and 7.0% on dynamic modulus in an SOS range that covered 95% of the individual measurements.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In equine articular cartilage, use of mean SOS of 1,696 m/s in ultrasound indentation measurements introduces some inaccuracy on cartilage thickness determinations, but the dynamic modulus of cartilage can be estimated with acceptable accuracy in horses regardless of age, site in the joint, or stage of cartilage degeneration. (Am J Vet Res 2005;66:1175–1180)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research