Descriptive epidemiology of joint injuries in Thoroughbred racehorses in training
Article first published online: 15 MAR 2011
© 2011 EVJ Ltd
Equine Veterinary Journal
Volume 44, Issue 1, pages 13–19, January 2012
How to Cite
REED, S. R., JACKSON, B. F., MC ILWRAITH, C. W., WRIGHT, I. M., PILSWORTH, R., KNAPP, S., WOOD, J. L. N., PRICE, J. S. and VERHEYEN, K. L. P. (2012), Descriptive epidemiology of joint injuries in Thoroughbred racehorses in training. Equine Veterinary Journal, 44: 13–19. doi: 10.1111/j.2042-3306.2010.00352.x
- Issue published online: 1 DEC 2011
- Article first published online: 15 MAR 2011
- Received: 25.05.10; Accepted: 08.11.10
- joint injury;
Reasons for performing study: No large scale epidemiological studies have previously quantified the occurrence of carpal, metacarpo- and metatarsophalangeal (MCP/MTP) joint injuries in Thoroughbred racehorses.
Objectives: To develop an objective classification system for carpal and MCP/MTP joint injuries and estimate the incidence of these injuries in young Thoroughbreds in flat race training.
Methods: In a prospective cohort study, data on daily exercise and veterinary-diagnosed carpal and MCP/MTP joint injuries were collected from Thoroughbreds monitored since starting training as yearlings, for up to 2 years. Cases were classified in one of 4 categories: 1) localised to a carpal or MCP/MTP joint based on clinical examination and/or diagnostic analgesia; no diagnostic imaging performed; 2) localised to a carpal or MCP/MTP joint based on clinical examination and/or diagnostic analgesia; radiographs taken but no abnormalities detected; 3) evidence of abnormality of subchondral bone and/or articular margin(s) on diagnostic imaging and 4) evidence of discontinuity of the articular surface on diagnostic imaging. Incidence rates and rate ratios were estimated using Poisson regression, adjusting for trainer-level clustering.
Results: A total of 647 horses from 13 trainers throughout England contributed 7785 months at risk of joint injury. One-hundred-and-eighty-four cases of carpal (n = 82) or MCP/MTP (n = 102) joint injury were reported in 165 horses and classified in Category 1 (n = 21), Category 2 (n = 21), Category 3 (n = 72) or Category 4 (n = 70). The overall joint injury rate was 1.8 per 100 horse months (95% CI = 1.2, 2.8); rates did not differ significantly between 2- and 3-year-olds but females sustained Category 1 injuries at triple the rate of males (P = 0.03). Joint injury rates differed significantly between trainers (P<0.001) and there was trainer variation in anatomical site and severity of injury.
Conclusions and potential relevance: Carpal and MCP/MTP joint injuries are an important cause of morbidity in Thoroughbred racehorses. Identification of modifiable risk factors for these injuries may reduce their incidence.