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Extension > Horse Extension - Research Updates > Foal rib fractures

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Foal rib fractures

Rib fractures in foals may be occurring more frequently than previously thought.

The National Institute for Animal Agriculture

Rib fractures in foals may be occurring more frequently than previously thought. That's the conclusion of a University Of Montreal study. The study also revealed that ultrasonography is more effective than radiography for detecting rib fractures in foals.

During physical, radiographic and ultrasonographic examinations on 29 Thoroughbred foals admitted to an emergency unit for reason other than thoracic trauma, researchers found that 69 percent had at least one rib fracture.

Fillies had almost twice as many fractures than colts, and fractures were often occurring on the left side. Researchers believe these variances are due to the difference in thoracic cage flexibility between genders and positioning during parturition (labor).

Although x-rays showed some foals without a fracture, ultrasonography revealed a different story. The more sensitive technique found fractures in 82% of the foals that looked normal on x-rays. Moreover, ultrasonography enabled researchers to identify additional rib abnormalities not visible on radiographs.

Researchers contend that ultrasonography justifies its routine use, calling it the "gold standard" technique in diagnosing rib fractures in neonatal foals.

For additional information on this study, see the March 2007 issue of the Equine Veterinary Journal.

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