Veterinary Record 162:233-236 doi:10.1136/vr.162.8.233

Retrospective study of the clinical features of limb cellulitis in 63 horses

  1. J. Hewson, DVM, DACVIM1
  1. 1 Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1, Canada
  1. Dr Fjordbakk's present address is Department of Companion Animal Sciences, Equine Teaching Hospital, Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, PO Box 8146 Dep, N-0033 Oslo, Norway


A retrospective study of 63 horses diagnosed with limb cellulitis between 1994 and 2005 was conducted. They all had an acute onset of painful, generalised limb swelling, and a clinical diagnosis of limb cellulitis was made by the attending clinician. None of the horses had more than one limb affected. Hindlimbs were significantly more often affected than the forelimbs (P<0·05). Thoroughbreds were significantly over-represented compared with the general distribution of breeds examined at the hospital. Blunt limb trauma, limb surgery and limb injections were associated with the cellulitis in most of the horses, but no plausible cause could be determined in 27 (43 per cent) of the cases. Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus species were frequently isolated, although mixed bacterial infections were also common. All the horses were treated with broad spectrum antimicrobials and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, and ultrasound-guided surgical drainage was also applied in 14 cases. Fifty-six of the 63 horses (89 per cent) were discharged from the hospital. Laminitis affecting the contralateral limb was the most common reason for the euthanasia of the other seven horses.

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