Thermography in the Diagnosis of Inflammatory Processes in the Horse

Abstract: To evaluate the use of thermography in equine medicine, a three-phase study was conducted. In the first phase, six horses were examined thermographically, before and after exercise, to determine a normal thermal pattern. In the second phase, nine horses with acute and chronic inflammatory processes were examined thermographically. In the third phase, thermography was used to evaluate the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs on chemically induced inflammatory reactions.

All normal horses tested had similar infrared emission patterns. There was a high degree of symmetry between right and left and between front (dorsal) to rear (palmar, plantar) in the legs distal to the carpus and the tarsus. The warmer areas of the thermogram tended to follow major vascular structures. The coronary band was the warmest area of the leg.

Heat increase due to exercise did not substantially alter the normal thermographic pattern. Use of thermography in clinical cases successfully detected a subluxation of the third lumbar vertebra, a subsolar abscess, alveolar periostitis and abscess, laminitis, serous arthritis of the femoropatellar joint, and tendonitis. Thermography was effective in quantitative and qualitative evaluation of anti-inflammatory compounds in the treatment of chemically induced inflammation.

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Reference: R C Purohit, M D McCoy. (1980) Am J Vet Res Aug;41(8):1167-74

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