Original Research

Catastrophic musculoskeletal injuries in Thoroughbred racehorses on racetracks in Gauteng, South Africa

Keith E. Spargo, Luis M. Rubio-Martinez, Dale P. Wheeler, Lizelle Fletcher, Ann Carstens
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 90 | a1640 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jsava.v90i0.1640 | © 2019 Keith E. Spargo, Luis M. Rubio-Martinez, Dale P. Wheeler, Lizelle Fletcher, Ann Carstens | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 November 2017 | Published: 28 February 2019

About the author(s)

Keith E. Spargo, Department of Companion Animal Clinical Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Luis M. Rubio-Martinez, Department of Equine Orthopaedics and Surgery, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom
Dale P. Wheeler, National Horseracing Authority of Southern Africa, Turffontein, South Africa
Lizelle Fletcher, Department of Statistics, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Ann Carstens, Department of Companion Animal Clinical Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

The incidence and types of catastrophic musculoskeletal injuries in Thoroughbreds that resulted in euthanasia on selected racetracks in South Africa between 1998 and 2012 were investigated by an observational retrospective investigation. Data from the National Horseracing Authority of Southern Africa for these racetracks were used to calculate incidence rates in Thoroughbreds (n = 114) that sustained catastrophic musculoskeletal injuries during racing that required immediate euthanasia, based on the diagnosis made by the on-site veterinarian as well as on fetlock radiographs and dissections of 53 cadaver limbs of horses that sustained a catastrophic musculoskeletal injury. The proximal sesamoid bones and the distal suspensory ligament were involved in 55.26% of horses; 73.58% of the cadaver limb radiographs were of the left forelimb, 64.15% were closed fractures, and 74.47% had biaxial proximal sesamoid bone fractures. Catastrophic musculoskeletal injuries occurred almost exclusively unilaterally and involved mostly the left front leg. The average incidence rate for a catastrophic musculoskeletal injury occurring in a year at any of the tracks was 0.6 of 1000 starts.

Keywords

factors; fractures; horses; injury; racing; tendons

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