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Osteoarthritis and other Coxofemoral Joint Diseases in Horses

By Peter Clegg, MA, Vet MB, DipECVS, PhD, MRCVS, Veterinary Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Liverpool ; James K. Belknap, DVM, PhD, DACVS, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Ohio State University

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the coxofemoral joint is usually secondary to major trauma such as luxation or fracture of the joint. Occasionally, idiopathic OA is diagnosed as a cause of chronic lameness. Cases of osteochondrosis or bone cyst formation within the coxofemoral joint have been reported, which can lead to secondary OA. Septic arthritis of the coxofemoral joint is seen occasionally in foals as a consequence of hematogenous spread or idiopathically in adult animals.

In cases of established OA, treatment is usually symptomatic, using NSAIDs, intra-articular corticosteroids, or other symptomatic treatments. In cases of septic arthritis, treatment should consist of surgical debridement and lavage in conjunction with local and systemic antimicrobial therapy. In cases of OA, full recovery is unusual. Successful treatment of septic arthritis is possible in foals but unlikely in adult horses unless diagnosed quickly and treated aggressively.