Purchase Exams Table Topic

Purchase examinations are a big bone of contention in many equine sale situations–not so much over the necessity of them, but over what exactly needs to be evaluated and how to interpret the results. Rick Mitchell, DVM, of Fairfield Equine

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Purchase examinations are a big bone of contention in many equine sale situations–not so much over the necessity of them, but over what exactly needs to be evaluated and how to interpret the results. Rick Mitchell, DVM, of Fairfield Equine Associates in Newtown, Conn.; and Harry Werner, VMD, who practices in North Granby, Conn., moderated a lunchtime Table Topic on this subject on Dec. 8.


Werner said, “The purchase examination is a successful combination of art and science, and science is the easy part.” This certainly is true with respect to interpreting radiographic findings as well as interpreting and relaying information to the prospective buyer. Mitchell presented X rays of several horses he had examined, discussed their histories, and asked the attendees what they saw and how they would describe any significant findings to clients. The variation in the answers, although they of course had a great deal in common, illustrated the variation in veterinarians’ experience that can cause different interpretations of examination findings.


This variation also stimulated further discussion on what other imaging methods or angles might be recommended to further clarify ambiguous findings. “Especially with purchase exam radiography, you want to avoid one-stop shopping,” said Werner. “Clients might try to cut down on the number of (X ray) views to save money, but don’t rely on only one view of an area for diagnosis. Shoot what you’re after, and if that takes more views, then take them.”


If it isn’t possible to take more views, then it was advised that the veterinarian should note in the report what additional views he would like to add and describe findings as those based on what they could tell with limited information

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Written by:

Christy West has a BS in Equine Science from the University of Kentucky, and an MS in Agricultural Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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