Blood Tests Might Provide Early Indicators Of Catastrophic Injury

Bone fractures, joint injury and other musculoskeletal trauma are major problems in the equine industry. In response, a grant of $59,700 will help two Colorado State University equine researchers continue their studies into diagnosing, monitorin

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Bone fractures, joint injury and other musculoskeletal trauma are major problems in the equine industry. In response, a grant of $59,700 will help two Colorado State University equine researchers continue their studies into diagnosing, monitoring and potentially preventing these problems.


Dr. David Frisbie and Dr. Clark Billinghurst of the Equine Orthopaedic Research Laboratory have been studying a method of early detection of musculoskeletal injury by monitoring serum markers in equine blood samples. Early studies conducted at the lab were successful enough that the prestigious Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation grant was awarded to continue this research.


Dr. Frisbie has reported in previous studies on a small population of horses that he has been able to accurately predict (79 percent of the time) the presence of a chip fracture in the knee, based solely on a blood sample.


“The hope of this study is to identify levels of serum markers that may be associated with an increased risk of bone and/or cartilage injury,” said Billinghurst. “This early diagnosis will allow therapeutic intervention prior to a real problem, thereby saving the horse from a career- or life-ending injury

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Written by:

Stephanie L. Church, Editorial Director, grew up riding and caring for her family’s horses in Central Virginia and received a B.A. in journalism and equestrian studies from Averett University. She joined The Horse in 1999 and has led the editorial team since 2010. A 4-H and Pony Club graduate, she enjoys dressage, eventing, and trail riding with her former graded-stakes-winning Thoroughbred gelding, It Happened Again (“Happy”). Stephanie and Happy are based in Lexington, Kentucky.

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