Oral HA Reduces Post-Surgical Hock OCD Swelling

Both intra-articular (in the joint) and intravenous (in the vein) injections of hyaluronan (HA) have been proven effective in treating joint diseases, such as osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) lesions, over the years. However, a relative newcomer to the scene is oral HA, which has shown promise anecdotally, but until now lacked scientific evidence of its effectiveness.

Brady Bergin, DVM, an assistant professor at Oregon State University, with the help of clinicians at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., examined the effectiveness of oral HA (Conquer) on yearlings with hock OCD lesions following arthroscopic surgery to repair and debride the area.

In the study, 48 yearling Thoroughbreds received either a placebo or oral HA for 30 days after undergoing arthroscopic surgery for OCD lesions.

In total, the researchers examined 57 joints (some horses had lesions in both hocks). After 30 days, Bergin (blinded to the treatment given) evaluated and scored the swelling in each hock. The scores for the HA- and placebo-treated groups were then statistcally compared.

"Based on our results, it was clear that those horses treated with oral HA post-operatively had much less swelling and seemed to return to a normal clinical appearance faster than those treated with the placebo," Bergin explained.

"Oral administration provides a more convenient means of delivery of HA, especially for routine use," Bergin said. "This allows a horse to be treated daily much easier than IV or intra-articular routes."

He added, "Oral HA gives the owner a good option for joint health care in their horse where there is joint effusion (swelling). It is a natural, safe, and effective treatment. In cases of arthritis and lameness, oral HA could be a good adjunct to other therapies; however, a veterinarian should be consulted to devise an overall treatment plan."

Researchers in the study published in the July issue of the Equine Veterinary Journal included Bergin, Scott Pierce, DVM, MRCVS, Larry Bramlage, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, and Arnold Stromberg, PhD, MS.

About the Author

Chad Mendell

Chad Mendell is the former Managing Editor for TheHorse.com .

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