Tendon Healing, Aged Broodmare Fertility Featured at AVMA Convention

Smarty Jones won a little sympathy Saturday night, July 24, as Patricia Hogan, VMD, Dipl. ACVS, board-certified veterinary surgeon, recounted the tale of how the Pennsylvania-bred colt reared up in the starting gate of Philadelphia Park last year and slammed his head into an iron bar, suffering multiple fractures around his left eye. The tale of Smarty Jones’ severe injury was told at the General Session of the 141st Annual American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Convention, which began Saturday and runs through Wednesday at the Philadelphia Convention Center. There were nearly 9,000 veterinarians, researchers, and support personnel registered for the convention.

Researchers in several fields of equine science spoke at the Convention, presenting lectures covering a diverse range of topics. Virginia Reef, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, from the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center, spoke about managing tendon injuries in horses. Of the many medical therapies available for bowed tendons, Reef feels only two have sufficient research to support their use. Sodium hyaluronate, for example, has been shown to assist healing after injection into tendon lesions compared to injection of a placebo. Multiple studies of another drug, beta-aminopropionitrile fumarate (Bapten), have shown that when it is injected into a tendon one to three months after injury with the horse maintained on an exercise program of carefully monitored walking, there is ultimately a better quality of tendon repair compared to placebo, based on ultrasonographic examination.

Equine reproduction was a major topic of discussion at this year’s convention. Elaine Carnevale, DVM, PhD, from Colorado State University, gave several presentations, including one about the effects of aging on reproductive health of broodmares. The major problems in older mares, as Carnevale describes them, are a longer length of time needed to grow a large ovulatory follicle, and less obvious signs of heat that are easily missed. Equally important, the older mare has older oocytes, and therefore overall decreased fertility. Older mares experience lower pregnancy rates, higher rates of pregnancy loss, and more complications carrying and delivering foals. For these reasons, Carnevale recommends a discussion of embryo and oocyte transfer technology as an alternative to obtain foals from older mares.

About the Author

Susan Piscopo, DVM, PhD

Susan Piscopo, DVM, PhD, is a free-lance writer in the biomedical sciences. She practiced veterinary medicine in North Carolina before accepting a fellowship to pursue a PhD in physiology at North Carolina State University. She lives in northern New Jersey with her husband and two sons.

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