Objective—To determine characteristics, incidence rate, and possible associations with selected demographic characteristics of catastrophic musculoskeletal injuries (CMIs) in Thoroughbred racehorses.
Animals—76 Thoroughbreds with CMIs.
Procedures—Incidence rates of CMIs during racing or training were calculated with number of CMIs as the numerator and overall numbers of races or training events during 2004 and 2005 as the denominators. Exact 95% confidence intervals were calculated. Associations between incidence and dichotomous exposure factors, nominal factors, and ordinal factors were determined. Only univariable associations were examined.
Results—76 horses were euthanized because of CMI and represented 2.36 and 1.69 deaths/1,000 racing starts in 2004 and 2005, respectively. Of these, 57 were euthanized within 60 days before or after a race, which yielded a point incidence of 1.05/1,000 racing starts and 0.39/1,000 training starts.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Incidence rate of CMIs at 2 Ontario racetracks was similar to that at other North American racetracks. A cumulative death rate of 1 to 2 deaths/wkshould be considered typical when designing prevention strategies and offers a baseline value for measuring improvement.
The effects of intra-articular administration of methylprednisolone acetate (mpa) on the healing of full-thickness osteochondral defects and on normal cartilage were evaluated in 8 horses. In group-1 horses (n = 4), a 1-cm-diameter, full-thickness defect was created bilaterally in the articular cartilage on the dorsal distal surface of the radial carpal bone. Cartilage defects were not created in group-2 horses (n = 4). One middle carpal joint was randomly selected in each horse (groups 1 and 2), and treated with an intra-articular injection of 100 mg of mpa, once a week for 4 treatments. Injections began 1 week after surgery in group-1 horses. The contralateral middle carpal joint received intra-articular injections of an equivalent volume of 0.9% sodium chloride solution (scs), and served as a control. Horses were evaluated for 16 weeks, then were euthanatized, and the middle carpal joints were examined and photographed. Synovial and articular cartilage specimens were obtained for histologic and histochemical evaluation.
Gross morphometric evaluation of the healing defects in group-1 horses revealed that 48.6% of the defect in control joints and 0% of the defect in mpa-treated joints was resurfaced with a smooth, white tissue, histologically confirmed as fibrocartilage. This replacement tissue was a firmly attached fibrocartilage in control joints and a thin fibrous tissue in mpa-treated joints. The articular cartilage in joints treated with mpa had morphologic changes, including chondrocyte cluster formation, loss of palisading architecture, and cellular necrosis in both groups of horses. Histochemical (safranin-0) staining intensity was reduced significantly (P < 0.05) in all layers of articular cartilage in mpa-treated joints in groups 1 and 2. In the replacement tissue, intense safranin-0 staining was found only in the chondrocyte clusters deep in the tissue of control joints, confirming fibrocartilage repair. Intra-articular administration of mpa in this dosing regimen thus induced degenerative changes in normal articular cartilage and resulted in histomorphologic changes in the repair of full-thickness articular osteochondral defects in horses.