Prevalence and distribution of radiographically evident lesions on repository films in the hock and stifle joints of yearling Thoroughbred horses in New Zealand

Prevalence and distribution of radiographically evident lesions on repository films in the hock and stifle joints of yearling Thoroughbred horses in New Zealand
Peer reviewed

Abstract

AIM: To characterise the prevalence and distribution of radiographic changes in the hocks and stifles of Thoroughbred yearling colts and fillies in New Zealand and compare them with other populations of young horses.
METHODS: Repository radiographs taken in New Zealand for the 2003–2006 Thoroughbred national yearling sales were evaluated by two individual readers. The distribution of radiographic changes was classified as left side only, right side only, or bilateral. Lesions were categorised by type, location, and sex of the yearling. Complete sets of hock and stifle radiographs of 1,505 yearlings were evaluated.
RESULTS: Osteophytes or enthesophytes were seen radiographically in the distal tarsal joints of 460/1,505 (31%) horses. Osteochondrosis was seen in the tibiotarsal joint of 66/1,505 (4%) horses, and in the femoropatellar joint of 40/1,505 (3%) horses. Radiographic lucency in the distal or axial aspect of the medial femoral condyle was seen in 247/1,505 (16%) horses, and lucencies consistent with subchondral cyst-like lesions were seen in 26/1,505 (2%) horses. No significant difference was seen in the proportion of colts and fillies with radiographic changes in the hock or stifle. The prevalence of osteochondrosis and subchondral cyst-like lesions in the stifles of the yearlings examined were similar to those reported in Thoroughbred yearling sale horses in the United States of America (USA). The prevalence of changes in the distal tarsal joints was similar to those reported in Standardbred and Thoroughbred yearlings from Scandinavia and the USA.
CONCLUSIONS: There was no significant difference in the prevalence of osteochondrosis in the hock and stifle, lucencies in the distal medial femoral condyle, or radiographic changes in the distal tarsal joints between colts and fillies.
CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Establishment of the normal prevalence and distribution of radiographic changes in the hocks and stifles of Thoroughbred yearlings in New Zealand will allow comparison with populations of young horses in other countries. Knowledge of the normal prevalence will assist veterinarians to identify abnormally high or low prevalences on individual farms, to further investigate the pathogenesis of the lesions.
KEY WORDS: Hock, stifle, osteochondrosis, subchondral cyst-like lesions, yearling, Thoroughbred, bone spavin, radiography

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