Summary The medical records of 192 horses with septic arthritis/tenosynovitis 1979–1989 were reviewed. Forty‐three horses developed infection after an intra‐articular injection, 46 following a penetrating wound, 25 following surgery, 66 were foals less than 6 months old, and 12 were adult horses without a known aetiology. Haematogenous infection of a joint occurs in adult horses and should be considered as a differential diagnosis in horses with an acute onset of severe lameness. The aetiology of the infection had a significant effect on the type of bacteria identified by culture. Staphylococcus was cultured from most of the horses that developed infection following a joint injection or surgery, 69% of the horses from which an organism was identified. Horses that developed infection secondary to a penetrating wound frequently provided cultures of more than one organism; Enterobacteriaceae and anaerobes were more frequently isolated in this group. The most common organisms isolated from foals were Enterobacteriaceae; E. coli was identified in more than 27% of the foals. The hock was the most frequently involved joint. Multiple treatments were used over the 10‐year period of study. Survival rates were lowest in foals; only 45% survived to be released from the hospital. Survival was greater in adult horses; 85% of the horses that were treated were released from the hospital. Survival was significantly greater in horses with septic tenosynovitis; all 14 of the horses that were treated survived. Survival was not significantly affected by the joint involved or by the type of bacteria cultured from the synovial fluid. Follow‐up racing data were obtained for all horses of racing age that were released from the hospital; 56.5% of these horses returned to racing and over 45% of these horses were able to make at least 5 starts. We suggest that if the infection can be eliminated before irreversible damage to the articular cartilage occurs, horses can return to athletic function.
Equine Veterinary Journal – Wiley
Published: Nov 1, 1992
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