By American Farriers Journal

An equine that stands with its front feet ahead of its body is synonymous with laminitis. Yet, fewer than half of the horses in active laminitis cases as part of a major British study displayed the typical stance.

A new study published in the Veterinary Record aimed to “compare the prevalence of selected clinical signs in laminitis cases and non-laminitic but lame controls to evaluate their capability to discriminate laminitis from other causes of lameness.” Researchers found that no individual sign was present in every case of laminitis.

The study reports that 92% of horses with lameness in both front limbs were diagnosed with laminitis — making it the best discriminator. In addition, if horses had an elevated digital pulse, 99% were identified as laminitic.

Five clinical signs stood out in laminitis — reluctance to walk; a short, stilted gait at walk; difficulty turning; shifting weight; and an increased digital pulse.

Considering that intensive treatment within several hours of the initial appearance of the disease results in the best recoveries, researchers concluded that improved evaluation of the clinical signs by laminitic horses by first-opinion vets would result in improvements.

Wylie CE, Shaw DJ, Verheyen KLP, Newton JR. Decision-tree analysis of clinical data to aid diagnostic reasoning for equine laminitis: a cross-sectional study. Veterinary Record 2016; 178:420 doi: 10.1136/vr.103588

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