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Relationship Between Hind Limb Lameness and Radiographic Signs of Bone Spavin in Icelandic Horses in Sweden


A field study was de-signed to estimate the prevalence of hind limb lameness in a population of Icelandic horses in Sweden. All available Icelandic horses at 11 different farms within 150 km from Uppsala were examined once during a study period of 13 months. The relationship between hind limb lameness and radiographic signs of bone spavin (RSBS) was inves-tigated. The rate of agreement between the outcome after palpation, motion evaluation and flexion test and radiographic examination was established.

A total of379 horses including 238 geldings, 125 mares and 16 stallions, with mean age 8.1 years (range 1-19 years) were examined by palpation of the medial aspect of the tarsal joints, motion evaluation and flexion test of the hind limbs. One dorsolateral-plan-taromedial oblique radiographic view was recorded from each tarsus.

Palpable abnormalities were found in 118 horses (31%). Forty-three horses (12%) were lame at presentation, 94 horses (25%) were positive on flexion test and 88 horses (23%) had RSBS. There was a significant relationship between palpable abnormalities, lame-ness, positive flexion test and RSBS. The proportion of joints with RSBS increased with increasing severity of physical findings. The proportion of lame limbs increased with in-creasing radiographic changes. The presence of palpable findings or positive flexion test was not influenced by the grading of radiographic changes. Using palpation, motion evaluation, and flexion test 75% of the horses with RSBS were identified. The rate of agreement between the clinical examination and the radiographic examination was 73%.


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Supported by Försäkringsbolaget Agria (Agria In-surance), Stockholm, Sweden.

The authors thank Professor Peter Lord for linguistic advice and constructive criticism, and all technicians for excellent assistance.

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Correspondence to M. Axelsson.

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Axelsson, M., Eksell, P., Ronéus, B. et al. Relationship Between Hind Limb Lameness and Radiographic Signs of Bone Spavin in Icelandic Horses in Sweden. Acta Vet Scand 39, 349–357 (1998).

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  • equine
  • degenerative joint disease
  • radiology
  • tarsus