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J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1989 Feb 1;194(3):398-404.

Open joint injuries in horses: 58 cases (1980-1986).

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  • 1Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins 80523.


A retrospective study was made of 58 horses with open joint injuries admitted to the veterinary teaching hospital. Twenty-five (43%) were admitted within 24 hours of injury, 15 (26%) were examined 2 to 7 days after injury, and 18 (31%) were evaluated a week or more after the initial injury. The joints of the lower portions of the limbs most commonly were affected, with injuries that varied from puncture wounds to severe lacerations with soft tissue deficits. Diagnosis was made on the basis of clinical signs and results of synovial fluid analysis and radiography. Radiography was found to be an important diagnostic tool, indicating joint involvement in 80% of horses on which it was done. Sixteen horses were euthanatized on the day of admission; of the horses treated, 53% that were examined within the first 24 hours developed septic arthritis, and the overall survival was 65%. Ninety-two percent of horses examined within 2 to 7 days of injury developed septic arthritis, with 38.5% surviving; all horses evaluated a week or more after joint injury had septic arthritis, and 50% survived. The prognosis for return to function was best in horses that were examined within the first 24 hours. Horses examined more than 24 hours after injury had a significantly (P less than 0.05) higher chance of developing septic arthritis, and thus, were significantly (P less than 0.0014) less likely to survive the injury.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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