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Doctoral thesis, 2000

Bone spavin : clinical and epidemiological aspects of degenerative joint disease in the distal tarsus in Icelandic horses

Axelsson, Mats


The aim of this study was to survey the prevalence and clinical significance of DJD in the distal tarsus in the Icelandic Horse population, to evaluate potential risk factors for DJD in the distal tarsus and for hind limb lameness, and to evaluate surgical and non-surgical treatment of lameness due to DJD in the distal tarsus.

Cross-sectional investigations were performed to assess the prevalence of, relationship between, and risk factors for, radiographic signs of DJD in the distal tarsus (RS) and of hind limb lameness (lameness). Clinical cases were studied to assess the possible benefit of surgical treatment vs. conservative treatment for lameness due to DJD in the distal tarsus.

A total of 1029 Icelandic horses, 668 geldings, 321 mares and 40 stallions were studied in Swedish and in Icelandic populations. Data were collected by physical and radiographic examinations of all horses and by interview of the owner or trainer of each individual horse. For the evaluation of treatment, 36 cases from the Large Animal Clinic, SLU, were selected.

RS were found in 23% and 30.3%, respectively, of the horses in the two populations investigated. The prevalence of lameness after flexion test was 25% in the Swedish population and 32.4% in the Icelandic population. No horses were found with RS or lameness in the age-span 0-4 years. The prevalence of RS and lameness were similar in the 6-12 year age group in the two populations investigated. Horses with RS had a fourfold risk of being lame when compared against horses without them (P<0.001).

Age and tarsal conformation were identified as risk factors for RS. Sire, age when broken to saddle, participation in stud shows, and gait were identified as risk factors for lameness.

Of the lame horses treated by surgery, 65% (n=13) improved and in the conservatively treated group, 56% (n=9) improved. The difference in recovery rates between the two treated groups was not statistically significant.


bone spavin; lameness; osteoarthritis; tarsus; horse; Icelandic Horse; prevalence; risk factors; treatment

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae. Veterinaria
2000, number: 74
ISBN: 91-576-5918-4
Publisher: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Clinical Science

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