Managing Joint Disease in Horses: A Look Back

Dr. Wayne McIlwraith describes how joint treatments for horses have changed over the years and what therapeutic options might be on the horizon.
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managing joint disease in horses
McIlwraith said removing bone chips and fragments in a timely manner, treating severe articular fractures with internal fixation, and treating OCD appropriately are important parts of preventing long-term OA. | Photo: Courtesy Colorado State University

Sometimes all it takes is one catalyst to start a person down a path by which his career will be defined. For C. Wayne McIlwraith, BVSc, PhD, DSc, FRCVS, Dipl. ACVS, ACVSMR—one of the world’s leading equine orthopedic researchers and surgeons—there were two: his introduction to synovitis and the addition of arthroscopy to doctors’ and veterinarians’ toolboxes.

At the 2018 Kentucky Equine Research Conference, held Oct. 29-30 in Lexington, Kentucky, he explained how those events shaped his career, how joint treatments for horses have changed over the years, and what therapeutic options might be on the horizon. McIlwraith is a Colorado State University (CSU) Distinguished Professor in Orthopaedics, Barbara Cox Anthony University Chair in Orthopaedic Research, and founding director of CSU’s Orthopaedic Research Center (ORC).

Arthritis and Arthroscopy

A New Zealand native, McIlwraith graduated from his country’s Massey University before beginning work in a mixed-animal practice. After alpine climbing expeditions brought him to South America and Europe and after stints as a relief veterinarian at practices in England, he arrived in North America to begin a year-long internship at the University of Prince Edward Island’s Atlantic Veterinary College, in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada. There, he gained exposure to colic and other types of equine surgery, which piqued his interest

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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