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DEVELOPMENTAL orthopaedic diseases and especially their main entity, osteochondrosis, are encountered worldwide and affect many species (eg, dogs, horses, pigs, poultry). Veterinarians and scientists became interested in osteochondrosis when, in the 1980s, the progress in x-ray diagnosis in the field highlighted the frequency of the disease in sport and racehorses. Osteochondrosis has since been regarded as detrimental to the horse industry because of the economic losses it generates (Jeffcott 1991). Although its impact on the performance of affected horses has not been demonstrated in every breed or in all types of osteochondrosis, the lower sales value of affected animals and/or their not being approved for breeding purposes are actually issues.
In the past decades, researchers have tried to determine the cause of osteochondrosis in order to better control its progress. The concept of the disease has gone through major changes during this period. It was regarded previously as a simple alteration in endochondral ossification with a multifactorial background (Jeffcott 1991), including genetic and environmental aetiological elements; but from the early 1990s, it became clear that the disease had a dynamic character and that lesions could not only develop but also regress spontaneously (Ekman and others 2009). Initially, the high prevalence of osteochondrosis in large breeds directed research …
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