Reasons for performing study: Subjective evaluation of mild lameness has been shown to have poor interobserver reliability. Traditional methods of objective lameness evaluation require specialised conditions and equipment. Wireless inertial sensor systems have been developed to allow for simple, rapid, objective lameness detection in horses trotted over ground.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare the sensitivities of an inertial sensor system and subjective evaluation performed by experienced equine practitioners at detecting lameness in horses. We hypothesised that the inertial sensor system would identify lameness at a lower level of sole pressure than a consensus of 3 experienced equine veterinarians.
Methods: Fifteen horses were fitted with special shoes that allowed for lameness induction via sole pressure. Horses were simultaneously evaluated by 3 equine veterinarians and a wireless inertial sensor system. Horses were subjected to multiple trials: 1) before inserting the screw; 2) after inserting the screw to just touch the sole; and 3) after tightening the screw in half turn increments. The number of screw turns required for lameness identification in the correct limb by the inertial sensors and by consensus of 3 equine veterinarians was compared using the Wilcoxon test.
Results: The inertial sensor system selected the limb with the induced lameness after fewer screw turns than did the 3 veterinarians (P<0.0001). The inertial sensor system selected the correct limb before the 3 veterinarians in 35 trials (58.33%), the evaluators selected the correct limb before the inertial sensors in 5 trials (8.33%), and in 20 trials (33.33%) they selected the correct limb at the same time.
Potential relevance: The inertial sensor system was able to identify lameness at a lower level of sole pressure than the consensus of 3 equine veterinarians. The inertial sensor system may be an effective aid to lameness localisation in clinical cases.