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Radiographic findings and anatomical variations of the caudal cervical area in horses with neck pain and ataxia: case–control study on 116 horses
  1. Francesca Beccati1,
  2. Marco Pepe1,
  3. Isabella Santinelli2,
  4. Rodolfo Gialletti2,
  5. Antonio Di Meo2 and
  6. Jose Manuel Romero3
  1. 1Sport Horse Research Center, Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy
  2. 2Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy
  3. 3Equivet Veterinarios, Madrid, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Dr Francesca Beccati, Dipartimento di Medicina Veterinaria, Università degli Studi di Perugia, Perugia, Italy; francesca.beccati{at}


Background Abnormalities of the ventral lamina of the sixth cervical vertebra (AVL-C6) are thought to exert abnormal stress on the articular process joints (APJs) of the cervicothoracic junction. The aim of the study was to investigate the association between AVL-C6 and radiographic findings in the caudal cervical area and between clinical signs of neck pain and ataxia and radiographic findings.

Methods Medical records of horses subjected to cervical radiography were reviewed. Horses were classified into those with neck pain (group C), those with ataxia (group A) and healthy horses (group H). Presence of AVL-C6 and increased size, dysplasia, remodelling, fragmentation and osteochondral fragment at the APJs (C5–T1) were recorded. Univariable logistic regression analysis was performed to identify the associations between explanatory and dependent variables. Variables with P<0.2 were included in the multivariable analysis.

Results One hundred and sixteen horses were included (44 in group C, 29 in group A, 66 in group H); 24 of 116 horses had radiographic AVL-C6. Age, AVL-C6 and overall/C6–C7 increase in size remained in the final models.

Conclusions The presence of AVL-C6 and moderate/severe increase in size of the caudal cervical APJs increase the odds of showing neck pain and, if severe, ataxia.

  • diagnostic imaging
  • horses
  • joint diseases
  • musculoskeletal
  • radiology
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  • Contributors FB and IS contributed to study design, study execution, data analysis and interpretation, and preparation of the manuscript. ADM contributed to study design and preparation of the manuscript. RG, MP and JMR contributed to study design, data interpretation and preparation of the manuscript. All authors gave their final approval of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval This study was performed in accordance with the guidelines of the Animal Care and Local Ethics Committee of the University of Perugia.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement No data are available.

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