Equine laminitis model: Cryotherapy reduces the severity of lesions evaluated seven days after induction with oligofructose

Authors

  • A. W. Van Eps,

    1. Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit, School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Natural Resources Agriculture and Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia
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  • C. C. Pollitt

    Corresponding author
    1. Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit, School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Natural Resources Agriculture and Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia
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Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit, School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Natural Resources Agriculture and Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia

Summary

Reasons for performing study: A previous preliminary study demonstrated the potential of distal limb cryotherapy (DLC) for preventing laminitis. Clinically, DLC must be effective for periods longer than 48 h and the preventive effect must extend beyond its discontinuation.

Objectives: To evaluate the effect of DLC, applied during the developmental phase of induced laminitis, on the severity of clinical laminitis and lamellar histopathology 7 days after dosing.

Methods: Eighteen normal Standardbred horses were divided into 3 groups of 6. Continuous cryotherapy was applied for 72 h to the distal limbs of the first group. The second and third groups were administered laminitis inducing doses of oligofructose and 72 h of cryotherapy applied (immediately after dosing) to the second group. After clinical assessment all horses were subjected to euthanasia 7 days after dosing and hoof lamellar tissues were harvested and analysed.

Results: In the laminitis induced horses clinical lameness and laminitis histopathology was significantly reduced in horses that underwent 72 h of DLC compared with untreated controls. Cryotherapy alone produced no significant lameness or other ill effect.

Conclusions: Continuous, medium- to long-term (72 h) cryotherapy applied to the distal limbs of horses safely and effectively ameliorates the clinical signs and pathology of acute laminitis.

Potential relevance: Pre-emptive distal limb cryotherapy is a practical method of ameliorating laminitis in ill horses at risk of developing the disease.

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