The Effect of Displaced Versus Nondisplaced Pelvic Fractures on Long-Term Racing Performance in 31 Thoroughbred Racehorses





To evaluate the long-term racing prognosis for Thoroughbred racehorses with displaced vs. nondisplaced fractures of the pelvis, identified scintigraphically.


Medical records of 31 Thoroughbred racehorses presenting to the University of Melbourne Equine Centre, that had fractures of the pelvis identified scintigraphically were reviewed. Pelvic fracture site was determined and defined as displaced or nondisplaced based on ultrasound and/or radiographic findings. Race records were analysed for each horse, with a minimum of 24 months follow-up, and correlated to fracture type to determine long-term prognosis for racing. Results are expressed as median and range.


Fractures at a single site were more common (n = 22) than fractures involving 2 sites (n = 9) and the ilial wing was the most commonly affected (n = 12). Thoroughbred racehorses with displaced pelvic fractures at any site (n = 12) raced fewer times within 24 months of diagnosis than horses with nondisplaced fractures (n = 19) (0.5, 0–13, vs. 7, 0–24, P = 0.037) but there was no clear statistical difference in race earnings between the 2 groups (0, 0–123,250, vs. 14,440, 0–325,500, P = 0.080). Four horses with displaced fractures (33%) were subjected to euthanasia on humane grounds due to persistent severe pain. When these were excluded from the analysis there were no differences in performance variables between horses with displaced and nondisplaced fractures.

Conclusions and practical significance

Thoroughbred racehorses with displaced and nondisplaced pelvic fractures that survive the initial post injury period have a good prognosis for racing.

Ethical animal research

All owners consented to use of horse details within this retrospective analysis. Sources of funding: University of Melbourne Equine Centre. Conflicts of interest: None.