Pathologic changes in the lumbosacral vertebrae and pelvis in Thoroughbred racehorses

Kevin K. Haussler From the J.D. Wheat Veterinary Orthopedic Research Laboratory, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine (Haussler, Stover), and the Statistical Laboratory (Willits), University of California, Davis, CA 95616.

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Susan M. Stover From the J.D. Wheat Veterinary Orthopedic Research Laboratory, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine (Haussler, Stover), and the Statistical Laboratory (Willits), University of California, Davis, CA 95616.

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Neil H. Willits From the J.D. Wheat Veterinary Orthopedic Research Laboratory, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine (Haussler, Stover), and the Statistical Laboratory (Willits), University of California, Davis, CA 95616.

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Abstract

Objective

To describe the prevalence, characteristics, and severity of soft-tissue and osseous lesions in the caudal portion of the thoracic and lumbosacral vertebral column and pelvis in Thoroughbred racehorses.

Animals

36 Thoroughbred racehorses that died or were euthanatized at California racetracks between October 1993 and July 1994.

Procedure

Lumbosacral and pelvic specimens were collected and visually examined for soft-tissue and osseous lesions.

Results

Acute sacroiliac joint injury was observed in 2 specimens. Signs of chronic laxity or subluxation of the sacroiliac joint were not observed in any specimens. Impingement of the dorsal spinous processes and transverse processes was observed in 92 and 97% of specimens, respectively. Thoracolumbar articular processes had variable degrees of degenerative change in 97% of specimens. Degenerative changes were observed at lumbar intertransverse joints and sacroiliac articulations in all specimens. Some degenerative changes were widespread and severe.

Conclusions

Numerous degenerative changes affected vertebral processes, intervertebral articulations, and sacroiliac joints in these Thoroughbred racehorses.

Clinical Relevance

Various types of vertebral and pelvic lesions need to be considered during clinical evaluation of the back and pelvis in horses. Undiagnosed vertebral or pelvic lesions could be an important contributor to poor performance and lameness in athletic horses. (Am J Vet Res 1999:60:143-153).

Abstract

Objective

To describe the prevalence, characteristics, and severity of soft-tissue and osseous lesions in the caudal portion of the thoracic and lumbosacral vertebral column and pelvis in Thoroughbred racehorses.

Animals

36 Thoroughbred racehorses that died or were euthanatized at California racetracks between October 1993 and July 1994.

Procedure

Lumbosacral and pelvic specimens were collected and visually examined for soft-tissue and osseous lesions.

Results

Acute sacroiliac joint injury was observed in 2 specimens. Signs of chronic laxity or subluxation of the sacroiliac joint were not observed in any specimens. Impingement of the dorsal spinous processes and transverse processes was observed in 92 and 97% of specimens, respectively. Thoracolumbar articular processes had variable degrees of degenerative change in 97% of specimens. Degenerative changes were observed at lumbar intertransverse joints and sacroiliac articulations in all specimens. Some degenerative changes were widespread and severe.

Conclusions

Numerous degenerative changes affected vertebral processes, intervertebral articulations, and sacroiliac joints in these Thoroughbred racehorses.

Clinical Relevance

Various types of vertebral and pelvic lesions need to be considered during clinical evaluation of the back and pelvis in horses. Undiagnosed vertebral or pelvic lesions could be an important contributor to poor performance and lameness in athletic horses. (Am J Vet Res 1999:60:143-153).

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