Risk of septic arthritis after intra-articular medication: a study of 16,624 injections in Thoroughbred racehorses


Corresponding author.



The aims of this study were to determine the risk of septic arthritis after intra-articular medication (IAM) and to identify potential risk factors for this complication.


A retrospective and prospective descriptive study of prevalence, and matched case–control study for risk factors.


Of 16,624 joints injected in 1103 horses at 6695 horse-visits, septic arthritis occurred as a complication in 13 joints (13 horses). The risk of septic arthritis following IAM was 7.8 cases per 10,000 injections or 1 case per 1279 injections. Veterinarian and type of corticosteroid were identified as risk factors.


Septic arthritis is an uncommon complication of IAM in horses, yet the risk is substantially higher than that reported in humans. The risk was higher for some veterinarians; identifying the reason for this was beyond the scope of this study, yet we presume they may have paid less attention to strict aseptic technique. A larger study may be needed to clarify whether the risk is greater with certain types of corticosteroids and to identify additional risk factors.