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Abstract

Poor performance is an ambiguous term used frequently by people in the horse industry. It means different things to different people, depending on the breed, discipline, or problem being discussed. There are myriad reasons that a horse may fail to achieve the expectations put upon it or, having achieved those goals, begin to falter. Equine temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disease is beginning to be reported as 1 such cause of poor performance. Despite this, in certain disciplines, it has become the trendy diagnosis, and a logical approach to the diagnostic workup is often lacking. Many of the clinical signs attributed to TMJ abnormalities can be readily explained by other more common problems. This ambiguity is compounded by a lack of extensive scientific evidence linking TMJ-related disease to behavioral or performance changes. Despite this fact, the equine TMJ has been reported to be a cause of poor performance, and while rare, it should be included in a differential diagnosis list, albeit one of exclusion. The purpose of this article is to describe a logical, stepwise approach to excluding common causes of poor performance before investigating the potential role of the TMJ in cases of poor performance.

Free access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To evaluate clinical and tenoscopic findings in a large group of horses undergoing surgery of the carpal flexor sheath (CFS) and determine whether any of the presurgical clinical signs were associated with tenoscopic findings.

ANIMALS 242 horses that had undergone diagnostic and therapeutic tenoscopy of the CFS because of aseptic tenosynovitis.

PROCEDURES Medical and tenoscopic video records (when available) of 242 horses undergoing tenoscopy of the CFS at a single equine clinic between January 2005 and June 2014 were reviewed. Tenoscopic findings were categorized as present or absent, and tears in the deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) were subjectively graded according to severity. Logistic regression analysis was used to examine whether presurgical clinical findings were associated with intraoperative tenoscopic findings.

RESULTS 242 horses (411 limbs) were evaluated by use of tenoscopy. An exostosis was detected in 228 horses (379 limbs) and was often multipartite. Most exostoses were found medial to, or within, the sagittal plane at the caudal margin of the scar on the distal physis of the radius. Effusion in the CFS was associated with tears in the DDFT. Other presurgical clinical findings were not predictive of intrathecal findings.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Synovial effusion was predictive of DDFT lesions within the CFS but was not predictive of the severity of lesions. Further studies will be necessary to determine whether any tenoscopic findings are associated with reduced athletic performance and to assess the effect of surgical intervention in affected horses.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To determine by use of an in vitro model the potential for translocating sufficient numbers of bacteria into a joint during arthrocentesis through cellulitic tissue to cause sepsis.

SAMPLE Culture media containing 4 concentrations of Staphylococcus aureus and needles of 3 sizes.

PROCEDURES Needles (22, 20, and 19 gauge) were inserted through Mueller-Hinton agar that contained known concentrations of S aureus (103,104,105, and 106 CFUs/mL). After a needle exited through the medium, any agar plug within the needle bore was ejected into a sterile syringe and the contaminated portion of the needle was harvested. Sterile saline (0.9% NaCl) solution was used to emulsify the agar plug and wash the contaminated portion of the needle. The resulting solution was cultured to determine the number of bacterial CFUs that could be deposited into a joint during arthrocentesis through contaminated tissue.

RESULTS Needle gauge and bacterial concentration were both associated with the number of bacterial CFUs deposited after insertion through contaminated agar. Although all needle sizes were capable of bacterial translocation sufficient to cause septic arthritis, ORs for 20- and 22-gauge needles translocating > 33 CFUs of S aureus were significantly higher than the OR for a 19-gauge needle. The ORs for 20- or 22-gauge needles translocating > 33 CFUs of S aureus (the minimum population of S aureus known to cause joint sepsis) were 0.22.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results for this in vitro model indicated that caution should be used when performing arthrocentesis through cellulitic tissue.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research

Abstract

Objective—To investigate potential relationships between cheek tooth occlusal morphology, apparent feed digestibility, and the reduction in feed particle size that occurs during digestion in horses.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Animals—17 horses of various ages and breeds and either sex.

Procedures—Horses were fed 1 of 3 hay-based diets ad libitum for 14 days prior to euthanasia; nutrient analysis was performed on samples of each of the 3 diets. At the time of postmortem examination, the head was disarticulated, photographs were taken of the occlusal surfaces of the maxillary and mandibular cheek tooth arcades, and samples of stomach and small colon or rectum contents were collected for determination of apparent feed digestibility and particle size determination. An overall oral pathology score was assigned, and morphologic features of the occlusal surfaces of the cheek tooth arcades were determined.

Results—Results of nutrient analyses did not differ among the 3 hay diets, and there was no significant difference in apparent feed digestibility among diets. Feed particle size differed significantly among the 3 diets, but stomach content and fecal particle sizes did not differ among diet groups. No significant correlations were identified between cheek tooth morphologic variables and feed digestibility, and fecal particle size was not significantly associated with oral pathology score.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results did not provide any evidence of associations between cheek tooth morphologic variables, fecal particle size, and apparent digestibility in horses.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate the effect of rostrocaudal mobility (RCM) of the mandible during extension and flexion of the atlanto-occipital joint on weight gain, feed digestibility, and fecal particle size in horses.

Design—Randomized controlled trial.

Animals—34 pregnant mares housed in 1 barn.

Procedures—Horses were randomized into a treatment (n = 17) or control (17) group. All horses were sedated, and the distance between the rostral portions of the upper and lower incisor arcades was determined during extension and flexion of the atlanto-occipital joint; mandibular RCM was calculated as the difference between these values. In the treatment group, measurements were made after dental floating. Body weight was recorded 1 day before dental floating and at intervals after mandibular RCM determination for a period of 24 weeks. Feces were collected from each horse during two 5-day periods. Samples of feed and feces were analyzed to determine feed digestibility; particle size analysis was performed on dried fecal samples.

Results—Data obtained from each group of horses revealed that RCM of the mandible did not affect weight gain, feed digestibility, or particle size in feces; there were no differences among breeds. Controlling for age and number of dental lesions did not significantly affect results.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In horses, RCM of the mandible did not appear to affect weight gain, feed digestibility, or fecal particle size. On the basis of these and other published data, the assumption that dental abnormalities affect digestion detrimentally in horses needs to be reevaluated.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To determine the holding capacity of a 5.5-mm-diameter cortical bone screw when placed in the third phalanx (P3) of horses and assess whether screw placement through the dorsal hoof wall into P3 would be tolerated by clinically normal horses and would alleviate signs of pain and prevent P3 rotation in horses with oligofructose-induced laminitis.

ANIMALS

40 limbs from 10 equine cadavers and 19 clinically normal adult horses.

PROCEDURES

In part 1 of a 3-part study, a 5.5-mm-diameter cortical bone screw was inserted by use of a lag-screw technique through the dorsal hoof wall midline into P3 of 40 cadaveric limbs and tested to failure to determine screw pullout force. In part 2, 6 horses had 5.5-mm-diameter cortical bone screws placed in both forefeet as described for part 1. Screws were removed 4 days after placement. Horses were monitored for lameness before and for 2 weeks after screw removal. In part 3, 13 horses were randomly assigned to serve as controls (n = 3) or undergo screw placement without (group 2; 6) or with (group 3; 4) a washer. Following the acquisition of baseline data, horses were sedated and administered oligofructose (10 g/kg) via a stomach tube. Twenty-four hours later, screws were placed as previously described in both forefeet of horses in groups 2 and 3. Horses were assessed every 4 hours, and radiographic images of the feet were obtained at 96 and 120 hours after oligofructose administration. Horses were euthanized, and the feet were harvested for histologic examination.

RESULTS

The mean ± SD screw pullout force was 3,908.7 ± 1,473.4 N, and it was positively affected by the depth of screw insertion into P3. Horses of part 2 tolerated screw placement and removal well and did not become lame. All horses of part 3 developed signs of acute lameness, and the distance between P3 and the dorsal hoof wall increased slightly over time. The change in the ratio of the dorsal hoof wall width at the extensor process of P3 to that at the tip of P3 over time was the only variable significantly associated with treatment.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Placement of a 5.5-mm-diameter cortical bone screw through the dorsal hoof wall into P3 had sufficient holding power to counteract the pull of the deep digital flexor tendon in approximately 500-kg horses, and placement of such a screw was well tolerated by clinically normal horses but did not alleviate signs of pain in horses with oligofructose-induced laminitis. Further research is necessary before this technique can be recommended for horses with naturally occurring acute laminitis.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To determine factors affecting race speed in Swedish Standardbred horses undergoing surgery of the carpal flexor sheath (CFS), to investigate whether preoperative racing speed was associated with specific intraoperative findings and whether horses returned to racing, and to compare the performance of horses undergoing surgery of the CFS with that of age- and sex-matched control horses.

ANIMALS 149 Swedish Standardbred trotters undergoing surgery of the CFS and 274 age- and sex-matched control horses.

PROCEDURES Medical records of CFS horses were examined. Racing data for CFS and control horses were retrieved from official online records. Generalizing estimating equations were used to examine overall and presurgery racing speeds and the association of preoperative clinical and intraoperative findings with preoperative and postoperative speeds. Multivariable regression analysis was used to examine career earnings and number of career races. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis was used to compare career longevity between CFS and control horses.

RESULTS CFS horses were significantly faster than control horses. The CFS horses that raced before surgery were slower as they approached the surgery date, but race speed increased after surgery. There were 124 of 137 (90.5%) CFS horses that raced after surgery. No intrathecal pathological findings were significantly associated with preoperative racing speed. Career longevity did not differ between CFS and control horses.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Horses undergoing surgery of the CFS had a good prognosis to return to racing after surgery. Racing careers of horses undergoing surgery of the CFS were not significantly different from racing careers of control horses.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To identify whether age, sex, or breed is associated with crown height of the left and right maxillary first molar tooth (M1) measured on CT images, to develop a mathematical model to determine age of horses by use of M1 crown height, and to determine the correlation between M1 crown height measured on radiographic and CT images.

SAMPLE CT (n = 735) and radiographic images (35) of the heads of horses.

PROCEDURES Crown height of left and right M1 was digitally measured on axial CT views. Height was measured on a lateral radiographic image when available. Linear regression analysis was used to identify factors associated with crown height. Half the data set was subsequently used to generate a regression model to predict age on the basis of M1 crown height, and the other half was used to validate accuracy of the predictions.

RESULTS M1 crown height decreased with increasing age, but the rate of decrease slowed with increasing age. Height also differed by sex and breed. The model most accurately reflected age of horses < 10 years old, although age was overestimated by a mean of 0.1 years. The correlation between radiographic and CT crown height of M1 was 0.91; the mean for radiographic measurements was 2.5 mm greater than for CT measurements.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE M1 crown height can be used to predict age of horses. Results for CT images correlated well with those for radiographic images. Studies are needed to develop a comparable model with results for radiographic images.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To describe histologic changes in the temporomandibular joints (TMJs) of horses of various ages.

SAMPLE

22 TMJs from cadavers of 11 horses.

PROCEDURES

Horses were categorized into 3 age groups (group 1, 2 to 10 years old [n = 3]; group 2, 11 to 20 years old [3]; and group 3, > 20 years old [5]). Each TMJ was sectioned into 5-mm slices, preserved in formalin, decalcified in formic acid, and routinely processed for histologic analysis. Joints were systematically assessed by use of previously described methods. Multilevel mixed-effects models were used to examine the data.

RESULTS

The number of changes was significantly fewer and degree of changes was significantly less within the TMJs of group 1 horses, compared with those of group 3 horses. Comparison among groups revealed that the combination of temporal and mandibular scores for group 1 was significantly lower than for groups 2 or 3. Disk score did not differ significantly between groups 1 and 2, but disk scores of groups 1 and 2 were significantly lower than the disk score of group 3.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

The assessed lesions were associated with osteoarthritis, and they accumulated in the TMJs as horses aged. In the absence of signs of pain manifested as changes in mastication, behavior, or performance, it would be difficult to determine the point at which accrued pathological changes represented the onset of clinically important osteoarthritis of the TMJs.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research