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Sports Medicine

Lameness Evaluations

Lameness is any abnormality in a horse's gait which is an indication of a structural Flexion hind limbor functional disorder in one or more limbs of a horse that is apparent during motion or in the standing position. Lameness is most often due to a muscle , joint or bone abnormalities. How a lame horse is examined depends largely on the type of lameness. Some lameness cases are easily diagnosed by history, presentation and a physical examination. However, other lameness disorders (often mild lameness), may require joint flexions, diagnostic nerve/joint blocks, radiography, ultrasonography, nuclear scintigraphy and other diagnostic procedures.




A pre-purchase exam includes a physical exam, soundness exam, radiology, endoscopy, ultrasonography, routine blood work and drug screening. Each pre-purchase exam is tailored around the buyers needs and intended use of the horse.

Owning a horse can be a big investment in time, money and emotion. Unfortunately, horses seldom come with a money-back guarantee. That’s why it is so important to investigate the horse’s overall health and condition through a pre-purchase exam conducted by an equine veterinarian. Whether you want a horse as a family pet, a pleasure mount, a breeding animal, or a high performance athlete, you stand the best chance of getting one that meets your needs by investing in a pre-purchase exam.

Pre-purchase examinations may vary, depending on the intended use of the horse and the veterinarian who is doing the examination. Deciding exactly what should be included in the pre-purchase examination requires good communication between you and you veterinarian. The following guidelines will help ensure a custom-tailored exam:

  • Choose a veterinarian who is familiar with the breed, sport or use for which the horse is being purchased.

  • Explain to your veterinarian your expectations and primary use for the horse, including short-and long-term goals (e.g. showing, then breeding).

  • Ask your veterinarian to outline the procedures that he or she feels should be included in the exam and why.

  • Establish the costs for these procedures.

  • Be present during the pre-purchase exam. The seller or agent should also be present.

  • Discuss with your veterinarian his or her findings in private.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions or request further information about you veterinarian’s findings in private.

The veterinarian’s job is neither to pass nor fail an animal. Rather, it is to provide you with information regarding any existing medical problems and to discuss those problems with you so that you can make an informed pre-purchase decision. Your veterinarian can advise you about the horse’s current physical condition, but he or she cannot predict the future. The decision to buy is yours alone to make. But your equine veterinarian can be a valuable partner in the process of providing you with objective, health-related information.

Attributing the AAEP and Bayer Animal Health


Digital Radiography Imaging System

Digital radiography (DR) is becoming very common in equine veterinary clinics around the country. Instead of capturing images on cassettes, which requires the film to be developed manually in chemicals, the DR system captures information digitally on a special plate using a regular X-Ray machine. The plates save the image, which is then transferred into a computer where the images are stored. We can then examine the computerized radiographs on a work station, and can adjust contrast and brightness. The imaged can be digitally enlarged and enhanced to reveal problems that might not be identified using traditional x-ray technologies.

  • Reduce exam time – Each image is captured, verified and clinically reviewed in seconds.

  • Perform immediate retakes, eliminate recalls – Images are reviewed and clinicallyaccepted or rejected immediately after capture. Windshield time and labor cost for recalls is eliminated.

  • Eliminate darkroom and reduce storage space requirements – Free up space for other purposes.

  • Perform more exams per day – Return trips for retakes are eliminated and exam times are shorter.

  • Completed exam can generate more revenue. For example, the same image data can be enhanced to generate both a bone exam and a soft tissue exam.

  • Animal owners will value on-site diagnosis and superior diagnostic results.


For more information please visit: Eklin Medical Systems



Ultrasound image of horse tendonUltrasound is used for the evaluation of the soft tissue structures of the horse. Tendinous and ligamentous structures cannot be examined via radiographs. However, they can be imaged using a diagnostic ultrasound technique. equine ultrasoundA diagnostic ultrasonic image is formed by transmitting high frequency sound waves and reflecting these waves off of different tissue interfaces. Ultrasound is best used for deep penetration of muscles, nerve damage, tendon injury, trauma, bursitis and scars in contracted tissue.




Shockwave Therapy

Extracorporeal high-energy shock wave therapy is a non-invasive and repeatable method of treatment with hardly any side effects that has been successfully used in the treatment of the locomotor apparatus of man for many years. Shockwave therapy is useful for a number of conditions causing lameness in the horse. These conditions include:Dr. Tom Daniels administering Shockwave treatment to a horse.

  • Suspensory ligament disease

  • Bowed tendons

  • Ringbone

  • Bone spavin

  • Bucked shins

  • Splints

  • Fractured splint bones

  • Sore backs

  • Navicular syndrome

  • Fractures not healing properly

During the treatment, a total of approximately 750-1500 shock waves are applied. The ultrasound localization and/or bio-feedback grid-scan technique employed allows the target area to be precisely scanned step by step and exposed to about 200-300 shock waves at a time. Treatment is generally started at a low energy level allow the horses to get used to the shock waves. In the course of the treatment session, the energy level can be gradually increased. The entire therapy takes about 20 minutes and is repeated two to three times, in an interval of three to six weeks, according to the diagnosis and the healing process. Slight sedation (by the administration of detemodine and/or butorphanol) has proved useful to calm the horse.


Nuclear ScintigraphyScint procedure at Southern Pines Equine

This type of nuclear imaging that uses a "radiopharmaceutical" which is injected into the blood stream. The compound concentrates in tissues where there is inflammation or increased cellular activity, such as a hair-line fracture within a bone or a high suspensory ligament strain. Scintigraphy can also be used to accurately evaluate navicular syndrome and spinal arthritis- two common problems where radiographs are not always capable of giving a definitive answer!


EndoscopyUpper Airway Scoping

We are equipped with a 3-meter gastroscope and a 1-meter laryngic-scope, which allows us to examine the inside of the stomach for gastriculcers and to diagnose any disorders of the larynx and pharynx.


Stomach Ulcers

The only way to definitively diagnose ulcers is through gastroscopy (3-meter 9.8 feet), which involves placing an endoscope into the stomach and looking at its surface. To allow this, the stomach must be empty, so most horses are held off feed for 18 hours and not allowed to drink water for two to three hours prior to the procedure. With light sedation and possibly a twitch, the endoscope is passed through the nostril and down the esophagus into the stomach. The light and camera on the end of the endoscope allows the veterinarian to observe the lining of the stomach.

Stomach ulcers are quite common in horses:
  • Approximately 9 of 10 racehorses get stomach ulcers

  • Up to 93% of racehorses get stomach ulcers, regardless of age

  • Almost 60% of other performance horses have ulcers

  • Up to 57% of foals have stomach ulcers, particularly during the first several months of life

  • 50% of horses with ulcers show no outward signs of gastrointestinal disease

stomach ulcer

Clinical Signs and Risk Factors of Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS):

Clinical Signs Adults Factor 

Acute colic
Recurring colic 
Excessive recumbency 
Poor body condition
Partial anorexia
Poor appetite
Poor performance/training
Attitude changes
Stretching often to urinate
Inadequate energy
Chronic diarrhea

Abdominal pain
Lying in dorsal recumbency 
Excessive salivation
Intermittent nursing
Poor appetite


High-grain diet
Stall confinement
Intermittent feeding
Intense exercise
Management changes

For more information please visit: Merial

Equine Stomach Ulcers: Study indicates even recreational horses at risk


Upper Respiratory Exam

We use are 1-meter video-endoscope in upper respiratory exams to examine the larynx and pharynx in the horse.

 horse larynx


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