Infectious Arthritis Incidence Following Joint Injections

Researchers determined that the overall incidence of infection was 9.2 per 10,000 injections.

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Veterinarians commonly inject horses’ joints both to diagnose and treat lameness. They inject diagnostic anesthesia to pinpoint painful joints, and they inject anti-inflammatory medications to help treat them. These procedures, however, don’t come without risk of infection, so most veterinarians (about 78%, according to a 2009 survey) add antibiotics to intra-articular (IA) injections just to be safe.

"The most feared complication is infectious arthritis," said Anna Bohlin, DVM, of the Evidensia Equine Hospital, in Sweden, "and to some veterinarians this justifies routine use of prophylactic (preventive) antibiotics."

But are these additional drugs really necessary?

To find out, Bohlin reviewed veterinary records from horses treated with joint injections from 1999 to 2010 and their outcomes. She presented her findings at the 2014 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 6-10 in Salt Lake City, Utah

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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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