Good news about cutting horse injuries

Many horses with certain suspensory ligament injuries recover and return to work.

A study examining magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings and post-treatment performance in cutting horses with proximal suspensory ligament disease suggests that many recover and return to work.

The prognosis for horses with proximal suspensory disease is good with proper treatment.

Researchers from Colorado State University reviewed the records of 32 cutting horses who underwent MRI of their proximal metacarpus (cannon region) at Animal Imaging, a dedicated veterinary imaging hospital in Irving, Texas, between 2009 and 2012. A common cause of lameness in cutting horses, proximal suspensory ligament pain often results from bone and/or ligament injury at the upper portion of the cannon bone, where the suspensory ligament attaches.

The abnormal findings most often seen in the resulting MRI images were bone remodeling at the attachment point of the suspensory ligament, followed by fiber injury in the ligament itself and bruising on the bone. Of the 30 horses available to follow-up two years later, 22 had returned to competition.

The researchers determined that the severity of injury at the time of diagnosis did not affect the chances for full recovery. However, they note that the detailed information provided by MRI imaging allows clinicians to select treatments targeting each aspect of the disease process: “MRI provides the most comprehensive diagnostic imaging evaluation of lesions specifically affecting cutting horses.”

Reference: “Magnetic resonance imaging findings of the proximal metacarpus in Quarter Horses used for cutting: Retrospective analysis of 32 horses 2009-2012,” Equine Veterinary Journal, August 2017

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