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Racing performance after surgical repair of medial condylar fracture of the third metacarpal/metatarsal bone in thoroughbred racehorses

Sophie Boorman, Dean W. Richardson, Patricia M. Hogan, Darko Stefanovski, David G. Levine
Veterinary surgery 2020 v.49 no.4 pp. 648-658
Thoroughbred, cohort studies, confidence interval, medical records, metacarpus, morbidity, mortality, peers, racehorses, racing performance, radiography, regression analysis, surgery
OBJECTIVE: To report the performance of thoroughbred racehorses after surgical repair of a medial condylar fracture of the third metacarpal/metatarsal bone. STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study. SAMPLE POPULATION: Forty‐three horses surgically treated for medial condylar fractures, 30 with previous racing experience, 13 without previous racing experience (nonexperienced). METHODS: Medical records (2009‐2017) were reviewed for signalment, radiographic fracture characteristics, repair technique, and postoperative morbidity and mortality. Each experienced horse was matched with two horses randomly selected from its most recent race to serve as healthy controls. Racing performance parameters (race rating, competitive level, speed rating, performance index) and career racing statistics were compared with multiple regression models between injured experienced horses and controls. The career racing statistics for nonexperienced horses were evaluated. Reasons for nonreturn to racing were obtained. RESULTS: The median duration of follow‐up was 6 years (minimum 2, maximum 10). Twenty‐one of 43 (49%) horses raced again as well as 18 of 30 (60%) experienced horses and three of 13 (23%) nonexperienced horses. Experienced horses were five times more likely than nonexperienced horses to return to racing (95% confidence interval = 0.07‐0.58, P = .003). Higher preoperative racing performance parameters were associated with return to racing. Racing performance parameters were lower after the date of fracture in injured horses compared with controls. CONCLUSION: Experienced horses were more likely to return to racing after medial condylar fracture repair, although their performance was generally lower than that of comparably uninjured horses. CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Owners should be aware that horses with medial condylar fractures likely will race at a lower level than their uninjured peers.