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Common, but still a lot to be learnt

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01 May 2009, at 12:00am

Diseases of the equine fetlock are one of the commonest conditions seen by the equine vet in practice but, despite their frequency, there is still a lot to be learnt about what causes such conditions as well as how they can be identified, treated and possibly prevented.

Diseases of the equine fetlock are one of the commonest conditions seen by the equine vet in practice but, despite their frequency, there is still a lot to be learnt about what causes such conditions as well as how they can be identified, treated and possibly prevented.

 At BEVA’s annual conference, which is being held at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham from 9th to 12th September, as always there are going to be a number of important sessions devoted to the management and treatment of lameness in horses.

 Within this meeting, all of the Friday morning is going to be devoted to an advanced clinical and scientific session presenting state-ofthe-art data relevant to the equine fetlock. This session aims to bring together the latest research on the equine fetlock in a manner that will be both interesting and relevant to all practitioners. One of the most intriguing aspects of fetlock disease in the horse is the very distinct diseases seen in horses which are used for different purposes. To set the scene, the morning will be based around two plenary lectures.

 Dr Chris Riggs, from the Hong Kong Jockey Club, will give the first presentation: an overview of the problems relating to the fetlock in the racing thoroughbred. Later in the morning, Dr Sue Dyson from the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket, will present a similar overview of the diseases of the fetlock that affect the sports horses.

 Both presentations will give a wide overview of the distinct diseases that affect each particular group of horses. In particular they will focus on what are the specific problems and will identify what is known about their causes, and importantly what are the key challenges we need to be addressing in the future to improve our management of these extremely common diseases.

 To support these major plenary presentations there will be a number of presentations that will focus on the latest research relating to the fetlock, with a major emphasis on presenting research data which are relevant to the clinical management of affected horses.

Ultrastructural alterations 

Professor Alan Boyde from Queen Mary University of London will present data on the ultrastructural alterations seen in the metacarpal condyle in the racing thoroughbred, in particular identifying the earliest changes identified in bone structure and how such changes may relate to the advanced pathology which is seen commonly in disease.

 Dr Tim Parkin from the University of Glasgow will present data from his studies which are relating alterations in both the shape, structure and pathological changes in the metacarpal condyle with the risk of a horse suffering a condylar fracture of the metacarpus.

 Dr Rachel Murray from the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket will extend the session into imaging and discuss the findings of her study relating MRI findings to pathological changes in the fetlock, and in particular identifying whether such changes can be used to detect the early signs of fracture.

 Finally, Professor Pieter Brama will close the session by giving an overview of how he sees such basic research findings being used to improve our clinical management of horses.

 As always in such sessions, discussion is vital, and within the timetable is plentiful opportunity to discuss the presentations. The session has been designed to be challenging and controversial and it is anticipated that data presented will have a real opportunity to alter how we see and manage conditions that commonly affect the horse.