OBJECTIVE To evaluate lameness and morphological changes associated with an osteochondral fragment–groove procedure as a means of experimental induction of metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint osteoarthritis within an 11-week period in horses.
ANIMALS 6 nonlame adult warmbloods.
PROCEDURES The right MCP joint of each horse underwent an osteochondral fragment–groove procedure (day 0). After 1 week of stall rest (ie, starting day 7), each horse was trained daily on a treadmill. Weekly, horses underwent visual and inertial sensor-based assessments of lameness. Both MCP joints were assessed radiographically on days 0 (before surgery), 1, 35, and 77. A synovial fluid sample was collected from the right MCP joint on days 0 (before surgery), 35, 36, 49, 63, and 77 for cytologic and biomarker analyses. On day 77, each horse was euthanized; both MCP joints were evaluated macroscopically and histologically.
RESULTS Right forelimb lameness was detected visually and by the inertial sensor system when horses were moving on a straight line after distal forelimb flexion or circling left on days 14 to 77. Compared with presurgical values, synovial fluid interleukin-6, prostaglandin E2, hyaluronic acid, and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist protein concentrations were increased at 2 or 3 time points, whereas tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-10 concentrations were decreased at 1 time point. Gross examination of all right MCP joints revealed synovitis and wear lines; synovitis was confirmed histologically.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results indicated that a combined osteochondral fragment–groove procedure can be used to induce clinically and grossly observable early MCP joint osteoarthritis during an 11-week period in horses.