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Keywords:

  • horse;
  • osteochondrosis;
  • radiography;
  • development;
  • hock;
  • stifle;
  • foal

Summary

In a longitudinal study the hocks and stifles of Dutch Warmblood foals were radiographed at age 1 month and subsequently at intervals of 4 weeks. Forty-three foals were radiographed until age 5 months and 19 foals until age 11 months. The chance for the development of osteochondrosis was enhanced by using only offspring from diseased sires with radiographically proven OC at either the intermediate ridge of the distal tibia or the lateral ridge of the femoral trochlea.

The radiographic appearances of the intermediate ridge of the distal tibia, the distal aspect of the lateral trochlear ridge of the talus and the midregion of the lateral ridge of the femoral trochlea were classified on a 0–4 scale using a standardised radiographic classification.

At age 1 month the appearance of the intermediate ridge of the distal tibia was frequently abnormal (grades 1–3: 67%; grade 4: 1%). Abnormal appearances of the distal aspect of the lateral trochlear ridge of the talus were less common (grades 1–3: 25%; grade 4: 6%). The midregion of the lateral ridge of the femoral trochlea was predominantly normal (grade 0: 98%; grade 1: 2%). Initial abnormalities of the intermediate tibial ridge showed a marked tendency for regression. Progression was less common. Normal appearances rarely turned into abnormal. Only 18% of the hocks were still abnormal at this site at age 11 months. Abnormalities of the distal aspect of the lateral trochlear ridge of the talus showed a strong tendency towards resolution. Progression never occurred. Normal appearances seldom turned into abnormal. Only 3% of the hocks were still abnormal at this site at age 11 months. For both predilection sites in the hock normal and abnormal appearances were permanent from age 5 months. In the stifle, abnormal appearances of the midregion of the lateral ridge of the femoral trochlea became obvious from age 3 or 4 months. Subsequent progression was usually followed by regression and resolution, the appearance returned in most cases to normal at age 8 months. At 5 months, 20% of the stifles were abnormal, but at 11 months this percentage had decreased to 3%. Normal and abnormal appearances were permanent from age 8 months.

Osteochondrosis of the main predilection sites in the hock and stifle develops very early in life. The majority of the lesions were temporary, the ‘age of no return’ was 5 months for the hock and 8 months for the stifle.