Bone-related swelling detected in 44 percent of horses in study

POSTED ON  |  20-07-2019

Bone Imaging
Researchers who studied the leg bones of horses found a significant number with abnormal swelling in their bone marrow, with a localised increase in bone density. The next step is to determine whether these changes are associated with bone micro-damage, which several studies have linked to catastrophic breakdowns in racehorses.

Christine Heales and her colleagues at the University of Exeter in England focused on a condition known as bone marrow oedema-like abnormalities (BMOA). The cause of these abnormalities, which can be seen on MRIs, are not fully understood. Excluding those related to trauma, BMOAs in humans are linked with a range of conditions, including nerve damage related to diabetes, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteomyelitis.

It has also been shown that these abnormalities can arise when sedentary individuals start a running regime. They are generally more common in runners than non-runners. In these cases, it has been suggested that BMOA patterns might represent the early stages of a stress fracture. For their study, the researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess 65 limbs from 43 horses collected from an abattoir. Their working histories were unknown, although some indication of age was given by abattoir staff.

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