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Review Of Osteochondritis Dessicans In Horses

2689 words - 11 pages

1 Introduction"Developmental Orthopaedic Disease (DOD) of young, growing horses includes any disturbance in changing the cartilaginous precursor of the skeleton to functional bone" (Anderson, 1996). One of the diseases included under this general term is Osteochondritis Dessicans (OCD) where a flap develops from the articular cartilage due to failure of cartilage to be properly converted into bone. It usually only affects young horses in any weight bearing joint of the body. OCD was first described in the horse in the femoropatellar joint (stifle joint), which is one of the most common sites of the disease although it may occur in several different joints at the same time.2 DevelopmentIn young growing horses, skeletal bones initially develop from cartilage, starting in the foetus and continuing after birth through to maturity. During development, two growth plates develop at each end of the long bones. The epiphysis faces the joint, and the metaphysis faces the shaft of the bone and together are called the physis (Anderson, 1996). As the horse grows, there are several stages of normal cartilage and bone formation. Normal endochondral ossification (the conversion of cartilage to bone near the joint) involves the following steps: chondrocyte (cartilage cell) proliferation, maturation and growth, followed by chondrocyte degeneration, death and calcification, vascular invasion, and finally, bone formation and remodelling (Briggs, 1997). As these steps occur, nutrients are provided by two sources, diffusion through the cartilage from the synovial fluid (fluid in the joint) and from the capillaries that are located in the existing bone (Anderson, 1996).In Osteochondrosis (a precursor to OCD), the cartilage is not replaced by bone in the normal manner. In affected areas, the cartilage might instead thicken and project into the bone of the epiphysis or the diaphysis. The thickening of the cartilage layer can cause some of the cartilage cells to be cut off from the blood supply, interfering with nutrient availability (Adams, 1987). When osteochondrosis affects the growth of the articular (joint surface) cartilage at the ends of the bones, OCD can result.Osteochondritis Dessicans may occur when the affected area becomes necrotic (dies) because the supply of vital nutrients via blood to the developing bone is impaired. This may cause the formation of a flap, or cause a piece of the cartilage to come completely loose and float around in the joint, which may ossify with time and is commonly referred to as a joint mouse (Animal Health Channel, 2002) and cause damage in other areas of the joint, just as a sand particle would in a ball bearing joint. While some bone disorders may have developed during growth, an animal may not become lame until it is subjected to undue training stresses, although some may never become lame. In severe cases of OCD in young horses, the disease can cause difficulty in the lift and swing phase of the stride of the leg affected...

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