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Ethanol treatment of osteoarthritis in horses

L. P. Lamas, J. Edmonds, W. Hodge, L. Zamora-Vera, J. Burford, R. Coomer, G. Munroe

OSTEOARTHRITIS of the distal tarsal joints is a common cause of lameness in horses. Intra-articular injection of ethanol has been reported to have some success in reducing lameness in horses with distal tarsal osteoarthritis. In this study, the effect of intra-articular ethanol was evaluated in horses with distal tarsal joint osteoarthritis that had not responded to corticosteroid treatment.

Twenty-four horses were studied. All had chronic hindlimb lameness that responded to intra-articular analgesia, had recurred within four months of corticosteroid treatment, and showed radiographic changes consistent with osteoarthritis of the small tarsal joints. Each horse was assessed for lameness. A radiographic contrast study of the affected joint was carried out under standing sedation immediately before ethanol treatment. The joint space was injected with 70 per cent or 100 per cent ethanol, depending on the clinician's judgement. After treatment, the horses underwent a controlled exercise programme. Follow-up consisted of repeat lameness examinations at six to 12 weeks and six to nine months after treatment, and a telephone survey of the owners.

In total, 44 lame limbs were treated. At the first follow-up, 29 of 44 limbs …

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