A Dead Cert : Experiment 5
5. Horses killed to demonstrate that non-invasive imaging is useful
Animal Health Trust (Newmarket)
Researchers at the Animal Health Trust examined the feet of 32 horses with the aid of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Eighteen of these animals had been euthanased because of two months’ lameness in one or both forelimbs. The other 14 horses had no foot-related lameness, but were nevertheless killed and used for comparative purposes. It is not clear whether some, or all, of the 14 suffered from conditions that warranted them being euthanased. The animals ranged in age from four to 15 years and included Thoroughbreds, Thoroughbred crosses and Warmbloods.
The authors carried out MRI scans in several of the horses before they were euthanased for clinical reasons. They found the results to be just as reliable as the foot scans that were carried out in the same horses after they were killed. The researchers concluded that MRI images were useful in evaluating foot pain in horses.
Comment: Limb injuries leading to foot problems such as lameness and laminitis relate to stress on limbs from racing and training regimes. A study of cause, rather than effect, would have been more relevant.
This study was funded by the Home of Rest for Horses (now renamed The Horse Trust).
Murray RC, Schramme MC, Dyson SJ, Branch MV, Blunden TS. Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound,2006; 47 (1): 1-16. Magnetic resonance imaging characteristics of the foot in horses with palmar foot pain and control horses.