Methods for the non-invasive assessment of bone quality were used to monitor the osteopenia induced by immobilising a forelimb in a cast. These techniques included the measurement of ultrasound velocity, single photon absorptiometry and radiographic photodensitometry. Serial measurements were made before, during and after an eight week period of immobilisation of the left forelimb of four adult standardbreds in a light fibreglass cast which included the foot and extended above the carpus. The measurements continued for 12 weeks after the removal of the cast. The results indicated a trend to decreasing bone strength and mineral content in both forelimbs, with the decreases being greater in the limb with the cast. The values tended to recover slowly after the removal of the cast, then more quickly after the horses returned to the paddock four weeks later. The differences between the limb with the cast and the opposite limb were significant at only a few points of comparison.
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