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the main objective of this study was to compare the presence of clinical signs in various joint diseases and the presence, number and amount of cartilage wear fragments found in synovial fluid. It was also matter of this study to analyse the relationship between several equine joint diseases, like osteochondritis dissecans, osteoarthritis, septic arthritis, podarthritis and navicular syndrome, and the presence, number and size of cartilaginous wear particles in the synovial fluid collected from different joints (coffin, fetlock, carpal, tarsal and stifle joints).
Materials and Method:
116 samples of synovial fluid from 85 horses were analysed for the presence, number and size of cartilage wear particles. Other synovial fluid analyses, like colour, opacity, viscosity, total protein content and total white blood cell count were also made and compared to the presence of cartilage wear particles. The material was centrifuged and prepared to microscopic examination. The animals presented different joint affections and were divided into 6 groups, accordingly to the presence of clinical signs, radiographic and arthroscopic alterations.
There was a significant correlation between cartilage debris and lesions of the articular surfaces in horses with osteoarthritis (middle particles: 11.00 +/- 3.09; control: 0.50 +/- 0.31) and osteochondritis dissecans (middle particles: 12.31 +/- 2.15; control: 0.50 +/- 0.31). Horses with osteochondritis dissecans that showed lameness presented a number of small, middle and big fragments greater than no lame horses. However, the number of cartilage particles in these no lame patients was already significantly increased when compared to control group (small particles found in lame horses: 13.25 +/- 2.35; no lame horses: 4.70 +/- 1.32; control: 1.13 +/- 0.55), which means that even when there is no pain, there can be already cartilage damage. Patients that showed lameness presented in general a greater number of cartilage fragments than horses without pain (small particles in group T3: 12.11 +/- 2.41;
1.13 +/- 0.55). This just did not occurred in acute cases, for example, in horses with septic arthritis (middle particles in group T1: 1.73 +/- 0.97; control: 0.50 +/- 0.58), that showed no significant number of cartilage fragments, although severe lameness. Horses with navicular syndrome (small particles: 4.46 +/- 1.67; control: 1.13 +/- 0.55) presented few cartilage fragments when compared to patients with osteoarthritis and osteochondritis dissecans. However, this number was significantly increased when compared to control group. No direct relation between the number of cartilage fragments and colour, opacity, viscosity, total protein content and total white blood cell count was observed in this study.
This is a simple minimal invasive method that could permit a better assessment of degenerative joint disease progress, long-term prognosis and evaluation of therapeutic regimes. The presence of cartilage wear particles in other joint disease, as osteochondritis dissecans and podarthritis, and in navicular disease could help the evaluation and prognoses. As it is known that any of these affection could lead to degenerative joint disease, this foresee would be of crucial importance even to evaluate the efficacy of the chosen treatment.
synovial fluid, cartilage particles, joint disease, articular cartilage, arthritis, osteochondritis dissecans.