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Summary

Six normal horses received 3 intra-articular injections of sodium monoiodoacetate (MIA) in the distal intertarsal (DIT) and tarsometatarsal (TMT) joints of one hindlimb. Injections were at three week intervals, and post injection pain was controlled with routine administration of phenylbutazone for five days following each injection. All horses underwent a gradually increasing exercise programme consisting of walking and trotting beginning one week after the first injection and continuing for 24 weeks. All treated joints showed increasingly severe radiographic evidence of degenerative joint disease with time. Clinical signs were mild or absent during exercise. All treated joints showed radiographic and histological evidence of fusion 24 weeks after the first injection. Amount of radiographic fusion ranged from 54.49 per cent to 88.64 per cent of the joint space. Histologically, the joint space that appeared radiographically fused was filled mainly with woven and lamellar bone. Fibrocartilage and fibrous tissue was seen frequently in the transition between fused and unfused areas. Articular cartilage in unfused areas was thin, fibrillated, hypocellular and histochemically showed diminished proteoglycan content. Existing joint space was filled with fibrin and necrotic, acellular chondroid matrix. We conclude that MIA will produce fusion of the DIT and TMT joints of normal horses in 24 weeks, and may offer a relatively easy, inexpensive and non-invasive treatment for distal tarsal osteoarthritis in the horse.