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  • Author or Editor: Amanda M. Arens x
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Objective—To define scintigraphic, physical examination, and scapular ultrasonographic findings consistent with bone fragility syndrome (BFS) in horses; develop indices of BFS severity; and assess accuracy of physical examination, scapular ultrasonography, and serum biomarkers for BFS diagnosis.

Design—Prospective case-control study.

Animals—48 horses (20 horses with BFS and 28 control horses).

Procedures—Horses underwent forelimb scintigraphic evaluation, physical examination, scapular ultrasonography, and serum collection. Scintigraphy was used as a reference standard to which physical examination, scapular ultrasonography, and concentrations of serum biomarkers (carboxy-terminal telopeptide of collagen crosslinks and bone-specific alkaline phosphatase activity) were compared for assessing accuracy in BFS diagnosis.

Results—A diagnosis of BFS was strongly supported on scintigraphy by ≥ 2 regions of increased radiopharmaceutical uptake, including 1 region in the scapular spine and 1 region in the scapular body or ribs; on physical examination by lateral bowing of the scapulae; and on ultrasonography by widening of the scapular spine. None of the tests evaluated were accurate enough to replace scintigraphy for mild disease; however, physical examination and scapular ultrasonography were accurate in horses with moderate to severe BFS. Serum biomarkers were not accurate for BFS diagnosis.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Scintigraphy remained the most informative diagnostic modality for BFS, providing insight into disease severity and distribution; however, physical examination and scapular ultrasonographic abnormalities were diagnostic in horses with moderate to severe disease. Proposed severity indices classified the spectrum of disease manifestations. Clearly defined criteria for interpretation of diagnostic tests aid in the detection of BFS. Severity indices may be useful for assessing disease progression and response to treatment.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To determine morphological and mechanical properties of trabecular bone of horses with a bone fragility syndrome (BFS; including silicate-associated osteoporosis).

Sample—Cylindrical trabecular bone samples from the distal aspects of cadaveric third metacarpal bones of 39 horses (19 horses with a BFS [BFS bone samples] and 20 horses without a BFS [control bone samples]).

Procedures—Bone samples were imaged via micro-CT for determination of bone volume fraction; apparent and mean mineralized bone densities; and trabecular number, thickness, and separation. Bone samples were compressed to failure for determination of apparent elastic modulus and stresses, strains, and strain energy densities for yield, ultimate, and failure loads. Effects of BFS and age of horses on variables were determined.

Results—BFS bone samples had 25% lower bone volume fraction, 28% lower apparent density, 18% lower trabecular number and thickness, and 16% greater trabecular separation versus control bone samples. The BFS bone samples had 22% lower apparent modulus and 32% to 33% lower stresses, 10% to 18% lower strains, and 41 % to 52% lower strain energy densities at yield, ultimate, and failure loads, compared with control bone samples. Differences between groups of bone samples were not detected for mean mineral density and trabecular anisotropy.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that horses with a BFS had osteopenia and compromised trabecular bone function, consistent with bone deformation and pathological fractures that develop in affected horses. Effects of this BFS may be systemic, and bones other than those that are clinically affected had changes in morphological and mechanical properties.

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To assess clinical outcomes and scintigraphic findings in horses with a bone fragility disorder (BFD) treated with zoledronate (a nitrogen-containing bisphosphonate).

Design—Prospective uncontrolled clinical trial.

Animals—10 horses with evidence of a BFD.

Procedures—Signalment, history, and geographic location of horses' home environments were recorded. Physical examinations, lameness evaluations, and nuclear scintigraphy were performed. Diagnosis of a BFD was made on the basis of results of clinical and scintigraphic examination. Each horse was treated with zoledronate (0.075 mg/kg [0.034 mg/lb, IV, once]) at the time of diagnosis. Horses were reevaluated 6 months after treatment.

Results—Affected horses were from the central and coastal regions of California and had ≥ 1 clinical sign of the disorder; these included scapular deformation (n = 2), lordosis (1), nonspecific signs of musculoskeletal pain (1), and lameness that could not be localized to a specific anatomic region (9). All horses had multiple sites of increased radiopharmaceutica uptake during initial scintigraphic evaluation of the axial skeleton and bones of 1 or both forelimbs. Six months after treatment, clinical improvement (defined as improvement in the lameness score, resolution of signs of musculoskeletal pain, or both) was detected in 9 of 10 horses; scintigraphic uptake was unchanged (n = 2) or subjectively decreased (8). No adverse effects attributed to zoledronate treatment were detected.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Treatment with zoledronate appeared to be useful in improving clinical outcome and scintigraphic findings in horses with a BFD; however, future placebo-controlled studies are necessary to accurately determine efficacy and long-term safety.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association