To determine whether differences existed in the viscoelastic properties of synovial fluid samples from the metacarpophalangeal, intercarpal, and distal interphalangeal joints of orthopedically normal athletic horses.
45 warmblood horses and 30 Thoroughbreds (age range, 4 to 16 years).
Synovial fluid samples were aseptically obtained via arthrocentesis from 1 metacarpophalangeal, intercarpal, and distal interphalangeal joint of each horse, and nucleated cell counts were performed. A commercial ELISA was used to measure sample hyaluronic acid concentrations, and full rheological characterization of samples was performed to measure the elastic or storage modulus G' and viscous or loss modulus G“ at 37.5°C (representing the body temperature of horses). Findings were compared among joints and between breed groups by means of ANOVA.
Significant differences in synovial fluid G' and G“ values were identified between Thoroughbreds and warmblood horses for the metacarpophalangeal joint, between the metacarpophalangeal and intercarpal joints of Thoroughbreds, and between the metacarpophalangeal and distal interphalangeal joints and intercarpal and distal interphalangeal joints of warmblood horses. No significant differences were identified between breed groups or among joints in synovial fluid hyaluronic concentrations or nucleated cell counts.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE
Viscoelastic properties of the forelimb joints of orthopedically normal Thoroughbreds and warmblood horses differed within and between these 2 groups, mainly as a function of the evaluated joint. To the authors' knowledge, this was the first study of its kind, and additional research is warranted to better understand the viscoelastic properties of synovial fluid in horses to optimize their locomotive function.