Enthesophytosis and Impingement of the Dorsal Spinous Processes and Transverse Processes in the Equine Thoracolumbosacral Spine
Coulter, Chelsey Adele
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Back pain commonly causes loss of use and decreased quality of life in sport horses. Osseous pathology of the spine, including pathology of the dorsal spinous processes (DSP) and transverse processes (TP), may be a significant cause of back pain. Impingement of dorsal spinous processes (IDSP) is known to be the most common cause of vertebral lesions in the thoracolumbar spine, and impinging transverse processes (ITP) may also be a cause of pain in the lumbar spine. The etiologies of osseous lesions on the vertebral processes are very unclear, and it may be that horse age, size and work history are contributing factors. In this study, we investigated the association between spinal region, horse age, size and racing history with the severity of lesions of the DSP and TP. The spines of thirty-three horses were examined postmortem from C7.T1-S4.5 for lesions of the thoracolumbosacral DSP and lumbar TP. We found lesions in 97% of subjects, with a variety of types of lesions including IDSP, ITP and enthesophytes. The incidence of the lesions varied with spinal region, with lesions being the most prevalent between T12 and T17. The prevalence of lesions was higher in old horses than in young horses, higher in large horses than in small horses, and higher in racing horses than in non-racing horses. The specific vertebral levels that displayed differences in lesion severity between populations of horses characterized the pathology of vertebral processes as injuries prompted by increased biomechanical loading of the spine.
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