Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents and musculoskeletal injuries in Thoroughbred racehorses in Kentucky


Dr Levent Dirikolu, 3830 VMBSB, 2001 South Lincoln Avenue, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61802, USA. E-mail:


Injuries sustained by horses during racing have been considered as an unavoidable part of horse racing. Many factors may be associated with the musculoskeletal injuries of Thoroughbred race horses. This study surveyed the amounts of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs) in injured horse’s biological system (plasma) at Kentucky racetracks from January 1, 1995 through December 31, 1996. During that period, there were 84 catastrophic cases (euthanized horses) and 126 noncatastrophic cases. Plasma concentrations of NSAIDs were determined by High Performance Liquid Chromatography in injured and control horses. The possible role of anti-inflammatory agents in musculoskeletal injuries of Thoroughbred race horses was investigated by comparing the apparent concentrations of NSAIDs in injured horses to concentrations in control horses. The plasma concentrations of phenylbutazone and flunixin were higher in injured horses than in control horses. Most injured and control horses did not have a detectable level of naproxen in their plasma samples. Further studies must be carried out to determine whether horses with higher plasma concentrations of NSAIDs have an altered risk of musculoskeletal injuries compared with other horses.