Diagnostic Imaging in Western Horse PPEs: Fifty Shades of Gray

One practitioner describes her diagnostic imaging decision-making process when assessing Western performance horse soundness during prepurchase exams.

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Diagnostic Imaging in Western Horse PPEs: Fifty Shades of Gray
As imaging technologies advance, practitioners have learned the limitations of relying on radiographs alone. X rays might not catch certain problems or might show anomalies that aren't useful for determining clinical relevance—especially when the horse is sound. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
Whether someone has a recreational or professional interest in owning a reining, cutting, barrel racing, roping, timed-event, or cow horse, that animal will likely cost a pretty penny. Not surprising, then, that diagnostic imaging has become a central part of Western performance prepurchase evaluations.

Ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), MRI, and nuclear scintigraphy are finding a place alongside radiography (X rays) when it comes to assessing a horse’s soundness prior to sale. However, with the 50 shades of gray these technologies present, which diagnostic images will be most revealing?

Well, that depends.

During her presentation at the 2019 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 7-11 in Denver, Colorado, Florida-based radiologist Natasha Werpy, DVM, Dipl. ACVR, said prepurchase diagnostic imaging in Western performance horses is becoming more complex. Horses across all Western disciplines commonly show wear and tear in their feet, hocks, stifles, and knees. However, each sport tends to manifest its own set of problems

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Written by:

Betsy Lynch has been an equine industry professional for 30-plus years as an editor, writer, photographer, and publishing consultant. Her work appears in breed, performance, and scientific journals. Betsy owns her own business, Third Generation Communications. She is a graduate of Colorado State University, continues to keep horses, and lives near Fort Collins, Colorado.

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