Sport Horse Medicine

Digital Radiographs · Digital Ultrasound · Shockwave · Upper Airway Endoscopy
IRAP
· PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) · Stem Cell Therapy

Our equine veterinarians are skilled at diagnosing and treating lameness that range from laminitis to arthritis. Horses in our practice vary from the family pet that is ridden infrequently in the back yard to the highly-conditioned equine athlete showing at the upper levels. Our doctors have at their disposal the finest medical diagnostic and treatment equipment including:

Digital Radiographs (X-ray)

The Elkhorn Veterinary Clinic Ltd has a state-of-the-art digital radiograph system. Radiographic images are immediate and of the highest quality. Digital imaging software allows our veterinarians to optimize the images for more accurate reading and diagnosis, including some soft tissue evaluation. Images can be transmitted for a second opinion by copying to a CD or via the internet. Our digital radiograph machine is available for use on your farm or at the clinic.

 


Digital Ultrasound

Our new GE LogicE Ultrasound unit captures the highest feasible quality images and makes diagnosing soft tissue and joint injuries much more accurate.  This ultrasound can also image deeper structures in the abdomen for colic workups, pregnancy diagnosis, and neonatal care.  We have multiple ultrasound units available for reproductive purposes as well.

 


Shockwave

Extracorporeal shockwave therapy is an excellent modality for non-invasively treating equine musculoskeletal issues. Shockwaves are acoustic (pressure) high-intensity waves  that are applied directly over the affected area.  Used successfully in humans for tendon and ligament pain, its use in equine sports medicine has been shown to be very effective.  Shockwave treatments induce a potent analgesic property (pain-relieving), as well as an increase in blood flow (neovascularization) and shortened healing times.  We commonly use Shockwave for suspensory ligament disease, sore backs, bowed tendons, ringbone, bone spavin, splints, navicular syndrome, joint pain, and delayed or non-healing fractures.


Upper airway endoscopy

We have the ability to scope upper airways on your farm or at the clinic.  We can visualize the nasal passages, larynx, guttural pouches, upper trachea, and upper esophagus.  Upper airway issues are common in racehorses and sport horses, and endoscopy is vital in detecting pathology.  Our scope can also be used for bladder, uterus, and urethral endoscopy.


Regenerative medicine offered at Elkhorn Veterinary Clinic:

IRAP

IRAP stands for Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein.  This newer treatment modality is a result of years of orthopedic research which determined the main factors of inflammation in arthritic joints.  Interleukin-1 is a major pro-inflammatory protein that is present in the synovial fluid in diseased joints, potentiating a vicious cycle where ongoing inflammation damages the joint cartilage and capsule.  IRAP binds to Interleukin-1 and prevents further inflammation, thereby protecting the health of the joint safely.  Osteoarthritis is very common and results in joint swelling, lameness, and poor performance.

The process of collecting IRAP involves a blood draw into a specialized syringe which stimulates the production of the antagonist protein.  The blood is then incubated for 24 hours and centrifuged so that plasma, rich with the antagonist protein, can be collected and frozen for future use.  The initial therapy entails 3-4 joint treatments spaced 1-2 weeks apart, and then follow up doses as needed.


PRP

Platelet Rich Plasma is also being used with excellent results for improved tendon and ligament healing.  Recent studies have shown PRP’s potent anti-inflammatory effects in joints as well.  This treatment works by using the horse’s own growth factors within the plasma and injecting it directly into an injured site to enhance healing and reduce damaging inflammation.  Growth factors important in healing include: Transforming Growth Factor Beta, Platelet Derived Growth Factor, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor, and Insulin-like Growth Factor-1.  This combination enhances angiogenesis (blood vessel development), recruitment of fibroblasts and stem cells, and supports healing of tendons, ligaments, and joints.

Collecting PRP is a quick process which is done at our clinic.  A syringe of blood is pulled from your horse, centrifuged and processed.  The platelet rich plasma is then injected with ultrasound guidance into the lesion or affected joint.


Stem cell therapy

Stem-cell-therapyWe also offer collection and injection of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells, which is an exciting new avenue in equine sports medicine.  This modality is being used more frequently throughout the equine world and encouraging research shows the improved healing of tendons, ligaments, and cartilage lesions.  The stems cells have the capacity to differentiate into multiple types of cells (tendon, ligament, etc,). Clinically we have seen beneficial results especially in lesions that historically are difficult to heal (meniscal tears, diseased cartilage, chronic suspensory desmitis, core lesions in tendons, even laminitic horses).

The bone marrow is collected from either the sternum or tuber coxae (point of hip) at our clinic.  Then, the bone marrow is shipped to a stem cell laboratory and harvested to acquire 10-40 million stem cells for injection into the lesion or joint.  This process has a turnaround of 3-4 weeks in total.  Recent stem cell research has suggested that it is ideal to inject stem cells after a minimum of 3 weeks post injury, so the waiting period for harvesting is not a hindrance to the horse.

As this is a rapidly developing area of therapy, information is changing quickly as well.  Please do not hesitate to ask our veterinarians for more information!