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Vet Comp Orthop Traumatol. 2008;21(5):406-12.

Scapulohumeral osteochondrosis. A retrospective study of 32 horses.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University College Dublin, School of Veterinary Medicine, Belfield, Dublin 4, Republic of Ireland.



To review the outcome of equine shoulder osteochondrosis (OC) with surgical or conservative treatment.


Retrospective study of 32 horses, less than two years of age, with scapulohumeral joint (SHJ) OC. The lesion severity was graded based on measurements taken from lateromedial radiographs. Follow-up information was obtained from racing records or telephone conversations with owners. Successful outcome was defined as the ability of the horse to perform its intended use.


Sixteen of 32 horses were affected bilaterally (48 joints). Eleven of 16 horses with bilateral OC underwent arthroscopic surgery; five had bilateral arthroscopy, six had unilateral arthroscopy of the most severely affected joint. Eight of 16 horses with unilateral OC underwent arthroscopy. The overall outcome was 'poor'. Only 15.4% (4/26) of potential race horses started a race, whereas 67% (4/6) non-racehorses were 'sound' for the intended use. Statistical analysis evaluating the effect of breed on outcome showed a statistically significant difference. There were no significant interactions between outcome and gender, affected limb, unilateral versus bilateral involvement, treatment or severity of the radiographic lesion. However, radiographic lesion severity on the humerus and glenoid showed significant positive correlation.


The overall poor prognosis for shoulder OC in young horses appears to be, in part, dependent on breed and intended use. There was not any difference in outcome between surgically and conservatively treated horses.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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