Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Developmental bone problems: A mini-glossary

To the left is a radiograph showing an OCD lesion. I think it is the thing owners of young horses fear most. When you read about developmental bone problems in young horses, a lot of terms are thrown around, and when I was first learning about it, the terms confused the heck out of me. Here is a little glossary, based on what I learned in several different articles and put into my own words...

The BIG THREE terms: from general to specific...
Developmental orthopedic disease (DOD) -- This is a broad and general term for muscoskeletal disorders/limb abnormalities, and covers a number of conditions: Osteochondrosis, contracted tendons, acquired angular limb deformities, ephysitis, subchondral bone cysts, flexural deformities, and juvenile osteoarthritis.

Osteochondrosis: This term is a subset of DOD, but still pretty vague. As part of the growth process, the bones of a young horse convert from cartilage to bone. Osteochondrosis is any interruption of the process by which cartilage hardens into bone,

Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) : Now we're talking. When the normal conversion from cartilage to bone is interrupted or proceeds abnormally, some areas do not fully convert to bone. There may be a lesion or weakened area on the bone/joint--either cartilage or a mixture of cartilage/bone. The weakened area may break away from the bone or partially break away, forming a flap. This can cause swelling and pain/lameness. The term for this condition is OCD.

I hope to write more on practical things related to bone development--like what specifically to focus to ensure normal bone development in your young horse--stay tuned.


  1. Please please write a follow up! I'm getting my first baby and I know I will be a crazy mess when it comes time to feed him, lol!

  2. Baby horse??? Details, I need details!!!

  3. Ahaha, I'm so excited!!
    He's a little Friesian sporthorse Colt out of Blue Eyed Dream... He's getting shipped from Florida to New Jersey in about two weeks, and I am ecstatic!
    (Also, thank you for asking, because I live in a NON-HORSE family and I rarely get to gush! :D!!)

  4. Please write more - my horse just had OCD surgery in both hocks and they tell me he will do just fine. But if it had been in his stifles, well, he would have been done.

    He seems fine! Two months post-surgery - but then again, he is a huge trakehner who scares me quite a lot so he doesn't get very much work....

    why are hocks worse than stifles?


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