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New Evidence in Osteochondrosis Research



Drs. van Weeren and Olstad summarized recent research that looked at the pathogenesis (the development and chain of events that lead to disease) of OC and how that might affect the management of clinical cases of OC. The term “OC” was defined by German surgeon Franz König (1832-1910) as “inflammation of bone and cartilage with the formation of loose fragments.” Recent research suggests that the primary event that leads to OC may be an issue with the blood vessels/blood supply to an area directly below the growth cartilage on the articular surfaces of a joint, leading to an area of necrosis (the death of most or all of the cells in an organ or tissue due to disease, injury, or failure of the blood supply).


The article went on to summarize the many factors that can influence the development of OC, both genetic and environmental. “The genetic background of OC (dissecans) is highly complex with quantitative trait loci associated with some form of OC found on not fewer than 22 of the 33 chromosomes of the horse, and different manifestations and locations of OC having probably different genetic backgrounds”.


The article goes on to further define the nutritional factors (feeding of large quantities of easily digestible carbohydrates, availability of sufficient copper for mares in the last part of pregnancy) and factors that influence the actual biomechanical loading of the joints (exercise regimens of foals, paddock size, roughness of terrain and conformation) that that can influence the development of OC.


While OC is rarely a life-threatening disease, the economic impact on the horse industry and horse welfare is substantial. The authors state, “this impact can only be lessened by the judicious management of both horse breeding and horse husbandry. Some of the measures that would alleviate the burden of OC conflict with (commercial) pressures from the industry and a balance between human-imposed breeding and performance goals and the interest of the animal itself should be sought.”


Article: vanWeeren, P.R. and Olstad, K. Pathogenesis of osteochondrosis dissecans: How does this translate to the management of the clinical case? EVE Mar 2016, vol. 28, no. 3, pp.155-66.


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