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Laminitis Update

A study by Dr Robert Eustace has recently reviewed the significance of clinical examination x-rays to assess a horse recovering from laminitis. Two hundred and sixteen horses were involved:

  • 77% of the horses returned to athletic soundness
  • 3% did not regain full athletic exertion
  • 20% were euthanized or died

The horses were grouped into four categories:

  • Laminitis
  • Acute founder
  • Sinker
  • Chronic founder

“Sinkers”, those horses showing depressions around the full length of the coronary band, had the poorest chance of survival. The importance of using x-rays to assess cases of laminitis was highlighted. A wire marker should be placed at the front of the foot as a landmark for assessing angles and measuring movement in bones. An important tip is to mark the position the wire is placed with an indelible marker. This is important when x-rays are repeated over time to assess progress. The angles and distances Eustace recommends for assessing cases of laminitis are presented in figure 1 below.

The most accurate predictor of survival of laminitis was D, the founder distance. It is an important measurement to make with horses suffering laminitis. The clinical treatments used with the cases included peripheral vasodilators with limited non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, deep shaving bedding covering the entire stable floor area, fitting frog supports and encouraging the animal to lie down. All cases received a diet based on high forage with a propriety biotin and methionine supplement. Dorsal wall drilling was used on animals with acute founder with dorsal wall resections used on chronic cases.

By Dr. Robert Eustace
Laminitis Clinic, Wiltshire, England
Reprinted from Equine Canada, Vol. 2 No. 4
Journal of the Equine Research Centre
Guelph, Ontario, Canada