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Res Vet Sci. 2008 Oct;85(2):294-306. Epub 2007 Dec 3.

Development of a composite orthopaedic pain scale in horses.

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  • 1Anaesthesiology/Pharmacology Unit, Department of Veterinary Biomedicine-GREPAQ, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Université de Montréal, C.P. 5000, Saint-Hyacinthe, QC, Canada J2S 7C6.


This study addresses development and validation of a composite multifactorial pain scale (CPS) in an experimental equine model of acute orthopaedic pain. Eighteen horses were allocated to control (sedation with/without epidural analgesia - mixture of morphine, ropivacaine, detomidine and ketamine) and experimental groups: amphotericin-B injection in the tarsocrural joint induced pain and analgesia was either i.v. phenylbutazone administered post-induction of synovitis, or pre-emptive epidural mixture, or a pre-emptive combination of the 2. Inter- and intra-observer reproducibility was good (0.8<K<1). The key specific and sensitive behavioural indices were response to palpation of the painful area, posture, and, of lesser value, pawing on the floor, kicking at abdomen and head movement. Of particular interest was the statistical correlation observed between the CPS and both non-invasive blood pressure (P<0.0001) and blood cortisol (P<0.002). This study established the value of some behavioural and physiological criteria in determining equine orthopaedic pain intensity and clearly demonstrated that pre-emptive, multimodal analgesia provided better management than the two other protocols tested.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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