The Top Equine Medicine Studies of 2014

Study topics include ophthalmology, respiratory issues, cardiovascular problems, sarcoid treatments, and more.

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Scientific journals across the globe publish hundreds of horse-focused studies annually; one research database search produced more than 1,200 results for a 12-month stretch. . Each year during the Kester News Hour—always one of the most well-attended sessions at the American Association of Equine Practitioners Annual Convention–a practitioner highlights standout medicine studies from this group. Carol Clark, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, of Peterson & Smith Equine Hospital, in Ocala, Florida, took on the task during the 2014 edition of the convention, held Dec. 6-10 in Salt Lake City, Utah.


Clark began her synopsis by describing several papers on eye problems. The first she highlighted was about treating corneal stromal abscesses with 5% voriconazole (an antifungal) solution by injecting the drug immediately adjacent to the anterior stroma rather than directly into the abscess as veterinarians more typically do. The researchers recommended starting this treatment as early as possible in the disease course. In their study, necessary treatment time decreased from the reported average of eight weeks down to 5.5 weeks and resulted in less scarring.

Next, Clark reviewed a retrospective (2006-2013) examination of 18 cases of orbital fractures. These fractures of the structures surrounding the eye are not uncommon and usually result from trauma, such as a direct kick or a horse hitting its head. “Multiple bones create the equine orbit, and to adequately diagnose the degree of damage and to define fractures, it is necessary to take radiographs along with (conducting) digital palpation," Clark explained. "Ultrasound of the globe of the eye is important, as well.”

In more than half of the study cases the researchers noted comminuted fractures (tiny bone fragments), particularly of the zygomatic process (a prominence that makes up the cheekbone) and frontal bones (that forms the protuberance over the eye socket). They also noted that epistaxis (nosebleed) likely indicates sinus involvement. In addition, they identified neurologic signs in a horse that had reared in a confined space and suffered traumatic brain injury. In general, veterinarians were fairly successful in treating all orbital fracture cases, with nearly 87% of horses returning to previous function, and 60% with good cosmetic appearance

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Written by:

Nancy S. Loving, DVM, owns Loving Equine Clinic in Boulder, Colorado, and has a special interest in managing the care of sport horses. Her book, All Horse Systems Go, is a comprehensive veterinary care and conditioning resource in full color that covers all facets of horse care. She has also authored the books Go the Distance as a resource for endurance horse owners, Conformation and Performance, and First Aid for Horse and Rider in addition to many veterinary articles for both horse owner and professional audiences.

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