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The existence of intertransverse joints in young warmblood foals

T. J. P. Spoormakers DVM, DECVS1, W. Bergmann DVM, DECVP2, S. Veraa DVM, PhD, DECVDI3, P. R. van Weeren DVM, PhD, DECVS1, and H. Brommer DVM, PhD, DECVS1
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  • 1 Department of Clinical Sciences, Equine Division, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • | 2 Department of Biomolecular Health Sciences, Division of Pathology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • | 3 Department of Clinical Sciences, Division of Diagnostic Imaging, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To verify the existence of intertransverse joints (ITJs) in young foals.

ANIMALS

11 warmblood foals.

PROCEDURES

Postmortem examination of the lumbar area in foals < 200 days old using CT, MRI, dissection, and histomorphology. Data were analyzed with descriptive statistics.

RESULTS

Age of foals varied between 1 and 200 days (median, 11 days). Ten foals had 6 lumbar (L) vertebrae, and 1 foal had 5. All 11 foals, irrespective of age, had ITJs between the first sacral and last lumbar vertebrae and between the last and second-to-last lumbar vertebrae. In 6 foals (all with 6 L vertebrae), ITJs also existed between the fourth and fifth L vertebra. One foal, also with 6 L vertebrae, additionally had a unilateral (right) ITJ between the transverse processes of the third and fourth L vertebra. Based on CT, width of ITJs was seemingly greater in young (< 1 month old) foals because of the incomplete ossification of the transverse processes. The ITJs were confirmed and further characterized by MRI, dissection, and histomorphology.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

ITJs already exist in very young warmblood foals and are present at birth. During the first months of life, these juvenile ITJs develop similarly to other synovial joints with increasing ossification and concomitant decrease of thickness of the cartilage layer. Knowledge of the presence of these ITJs in young animals is clinically relevant, as they should be recognized as nonpathologic when for instance a young foal is presented for presumed arthropathy and examined with advanced imaging techniques.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Figure S1 (PDF 1,254 KB)
    • Supplementary Table S1 (PDF 91 KB)
    • Supplementary Table S2 (PDF 96 KB)

Contributor Notes

Corresponding author: Dr. Spoormakers (t.j.p.spoormakers@uu.nl)