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Journal of the South African Veterinary Association

versão On-line ISSN 2224-9435
versão impressa ISSN 1019-9128


HOLLENBACH, E; ROBERT, MP; LE ROUX, C  e  SMIT, Y. Prevalence of radiographic changes in forelimb digits and metacarpophalangeal joints of South African endurance racehorses. J. S. Afr. Vet. Assoc. [online]. 2022, vol.93, n.2, pp.156-167. ISSN 2224-9435.

If the number of events alone is considered, endurance riding is the fastest growing and the second-most popular Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) discipline. Lameness is the most common cause of elimination from endurance races worldwide. To the authors' knowledge, no studies have been published investigating the prevalence of radiographic changes in the forelimb digits and metacarpophalangeal joints (MCP) of endurance racehorses in South Africa. The study aimed to investigate the prevalence of radiographic changes in the forelimb digits and MCP joints of South African endurance racehorses. One hundred endurance racehorses registered with ERASA were volunteered by their owners to partake in the current study. Radiographs were obtained from horses competing in endurance races during the 2018-2019 endurance racing season. Radiographs included seven standard views of each distal forelimb. Radiographic images were independently evaluated by three observers, point prevalence and inter-rater reliability (IRR) was calculated. Data analysis of the forelimb digits revealed a large proportion of horses with bilateral signs of dorsopalmar hoof imbalance (95%); a diversion from a straight digital axis (91%), with an extended (broken back) proximal interphalangeal joint (67%) being the most common abnormality. Osteoarthritis of the proximal (16%) and distal (7%) interphalangeal joints was only observed in a low percentage of horses. Interestingly, the hoof-distal-phalanx-ratio of the majority (86%) of horses was more than 25% but none of these horses showed any other signs of chronic laminitis, indicating that hoof-distal-phalanx-ratio might not be a reliable indicator of chronic laminitis in this population of horses. Ossification of the ungular cartilages was observed in the majority (69%) of horses, either affecting one or both distal phalanges. Descriptive data analysis of the MCP joints showed that a large proportion of horses displayed radiological signs of MCP joint osteoarthritis (28%), with 10% being bilateral. The current study provides insight into radiographic changes and their prevalence in the distal front limbs of South African endurance racehorses. Knowledge about the prevalence of specific radiographic changes would enable equine practitioners to better evaluate and manage horses that are affected. Although no correlations were made with age, speed or number of competitive kilometres competed, the current study may serve as a basis for future research.

Palavras-chave : endurance riding; endurance racing; radiographs; prevalence.

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