Your Guide to Equine Health Care

Scintigraphy’s Diagnostic Reliability for Horse Hoof Pain Limited

Scintigraphy gives provides the practitioner with information about some injuries related to bone or soft-tissue connections to bone, but it might not reveal many other sources of foot pain, researchers found.
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bone scans for horse hoof pain
Recent study results suggest that bone scanning can be useful in a lameness workup, but it’s not the most reliable diagnostic tool for issues thought to originate in the hoof. | Photo: Courtesy Oregon State University

If you’re considering a whole-body bone scan to find out if your horse’s lameness or poor performance might be due to foot pain, think again. Recent study results suggest that scintigraphy (bone scanning) might be useful in a lameness workup, but it’s not the most reliable diagnostic tool overall.

Scintigraphy can provide the practitioner with information about some injuries related to bone or soft-tissue connections to bone, but it might not reveal many other sources of foot pain, said Sue Dyson, MA, VetMB, PhD, DEO, Dipl. ECVSMR, FRCVS, head of Clinical Orthopedics at the Animal Health Trust Centre for Equine Studies, in Newmarket, England.

Essentially, if the scan gives a negative result, that doesn’t mean there’s no injury, Dyson said. And if the scan gives a positive result, that doesn’t mean it’s the only

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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