Osteochondrosis of the articular-epiphyseal cartilage complex in young horses: evidence for a defect in cartilage canal blood supply.

C. S. Carlson, L. D. Cullins, D. J. Meuten

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Abstract

The objectives of this study were to determine in horses 1) the ages at which viable cartilage canal vessels are present in the articular-epiphyseal cartilage complex of three predilection sites and one nonpredilection site of osteochondrosis (OC), 2) the prevalence of lesions of OC in these sites, and 3) whether there was an association of lesions of OC with necrotic cartilage canal blood vessels. The medial femoral condyle, lateral femoral trochlear ridge, and distal ends of the tibia and proximal phalanx were examined grossly, microradiographically, and histologically in 35 horses 18 months old or younger. Cartilage canals containing patent blood vessels were present in all sites examined in foals less than 3 weeks old and were absent from all sites by 7 months of age. The overall prevalence of lesions of OC at one or more of the sites examined was 12/35 (34%). Prevalence increased to 11/22 (50%) in horses 2 months old and older. These lesions occurred primarily in the medial condyle of the femur (n = 5) and the intermediate ridge of the distal tibia (n = 5). All lesions seen in horses between 3 weeks and 5 months of age were associated with necrotic cartilage canal blood vessels. In horses 7 months of age and older, lesions of OC were considered chronic because of extensive involvement of the subchondral bone and bone marrow. These results suggest that OC lesions develop prior to 7 months of age and that ischemic necrosis of cartilage secondary to a defect in vascular supply is an important factor in the pathogenesis of this disease in horses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)641-647
Number of pages7
JournalVeterinary pathology
Volume32
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1995

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