Equis ISSN 2398-2977

Spine: osteomyelitis

Contributor(s): Caroline Hahn, Robert J MacKay, Vetstream Ltd

Introduction

  • A condition rarely seen in adult horses, slightly more frequently in foals.
  • Cause: infection of the vertebrae due to extension from external wounds and lung/abdominal abcesses, or blood-borne septic emboli.
  • Signs: neck or back pain and/or paresis.
  • Diagnosis: radiography.
  • Treatment: prolonged course of antimicrobials preferably after culture and sensitivity testing. Surgical drainage and decompression may be required.
  • Prognosis: guarded, unless prolonged therapy is economically viable in which case it is fair to good.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Direct extension of infection from external wounds, lung or abdominal abscesses.
  • Blood-borne septic emboli.

Organisms involved

In foals

In adult horses

Pathophysiology

  • Inflammation of vertebral bodies
  • Epidural abscess   →   focal spinal cord compression   →   para/tetraparesis.
  • Especially seen in C1-2, C6-7 and lumbar vertebrae.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Watts A (2014) Osteomyelitis caused by Rhodococcus equi infection in the horse. Equine Vet Educ 26 (6), 287 VetMedResource.
  • Hu A J, Grant B & Cannon J (2009) Cervical vertebral osteomyelitis in a 4-month-old foal. Equine Vet Educ 21 (2), 71-75 VetMedResource.
  • Lischer C J (2009) Successful treatment of vertebral body osteomyelitis in a foal: A highlight in equine surgery. Equine Vet Educ 21 (2), 76-78 VetMedResource.
  • Stewart A J et al (2007) Computed tomographic diagnosis of a pathological fracture due to rhodococcal osteomyelitis and spinal abscess in a foal. Equine Vet Educ 19 (5), 231-235 VetMedResource.
  • Martens R J, Auer J A & Carter G K (1986) Equine pediatrics - septic arthritis and osteomyelitis. JAVMA 188 (6), 582-585 PubMed.
  • Mayhew I G, deLahunta A, Whitlock R H, Krook L & Tasker J B (1978) Spinal cord disease in the horse. Cornell Vet 68 (6), 1-207 PubMed.


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