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Two experiments conducted at the University of Queensland’s Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit examined energy metabolism and perfusion of the laminae during the experimental induction of laminitis with and without the use of ice boots to provide continuous digital hypothermia.
A microdialysis probe was placed in the white line to obtain fluid samples from the lamellar tissues under the hoof wall, and the fluid was analyzed to measure glucose metabolism and perfusion.
Twenty-four clinically normal Standardbred horses were enrolled in the study, with laminitis induced using either an insulin/glucose infusion (eight horses) or starch overload model (six horses) with eight horses serving as controls. One forelimb of each horse was randomly assigned to treatment with a cooling boot containing a 50/50 ice/water mixture. In limbs not treated with the ice boots, laminitis developed without a measurable effect on perfusion or energy metabolism. Continuous digital cooling with the ice boots decreased lamellar glucose metabolism and perfusion without affecting lamellar glucose concentrations.
The authors concluded therapy to improve perfusion is unlikely to prevent the initial development of laminitis due to endocrine disorders, and continuous digital cooling may prevent the development of laminitis by limiting the amount of energy available to pathologic processes within the laminae while preserving lamellar homeostasis.