Summary In a report describing life ending fractures (255 horses) from the Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center, Kentucky (1993 and 1994), 32 foals had rib fractures. The purpose of our study was to examine the incidence of rib fractures in newborn foals on a Thoroughbred studfarm by physical and radiographic examination, to determine factors which may contribute to the problem and to document any clinical consequences. All foals (263) included were examined within 3 days of birth. The thoracic cage was palpated externally for abnormalities and all foals were placed in dorsal recumbency to evaluate thoracic cage symmetry. Radiographs were used to diagnose foals with thoracic cage asymmetry (TCA) and rib fracture (RF). A diagnosis of costochondral dislocation (CD) was made when no radiographic evidence of fracture was present but there was severe TCA. Fifty‐five foals (20.1%) had TCA (9 RF). One to 5 ribs were fractured on 9 of 40 radiographic studies. No consequences of the thoracic trauma was detected clinically, radiographically or ultrasonographically in this group of foals or at a 2‐ and 4‐week follow‐up examination. The percentage of foals with a history of abnormal parturition was higher in the TCA foals (15%) compared to the normal foals (6.8%). There were more primiparous dams in the TCA group than in the normal foal group. Fillies (56.6%) had a higher incidence of birth trauma than colts (43.4%). This study demonstrates that thoracic trauma is often present in newborn foals and may not always be of clinical significance. Dystocia foals and foals from primiparous mares should be considered high risk for thoracic trauma.
Equine Veterinary Journal – Wiley
Published: Mar 1, 1999