Racehorse Breakdowns: The Importance of Post-Mortem Exams
I often answer the question, “Why would someone want a postmortem exam on an animal?”
As a veterinary pathologist involved in a necropsy program for racehorses that have sustained injuries on the racetrack, I get much the same question from both lay people and professionals in the horse industry.
People understand why a postmortem is warranted in a case of sudden death but understanding the need for a necropsy on a horse that has sustained a catastrophic musculoskeletal injury might be less clear. Like all athletes, Thoroughbred racehorses experience a consistent pattern of repetitive use wear associated with their musculoskeletal systems. An analogy familiar to most is the term “tennis elbow.” For people with even a passing familiarity with sports, “Tommy John” surgery for baseball pitchers is a commonly recognized term, as rotator cuff injuries also are a familiar malady in
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