Idiopathic haemarthrosis in eight horses

SA Vallance, JM Lumsden, AP Begg, CB O'Sullivan
June 2012
Australian Veterinary Journal

Objectives To review eight horses diagnosed with idiopathic haemarthrosis and to describe the intra-articular use of yttrium-90 (90Y) and methylprednisolone acetate (MPA) in recurrent haemarthrosis cases. Design Retrospective case series. Method The medical records, diagnostic images, histopathology and outcome of all horses diagnosed with idiopathic haemarthrosis between 1998 and 2010 were reviewed. Results Four Thoroughbred racehorses with haemarthrosis of the antebrachiocarpal joint had severe acute lameness (median, grade 4) and marked joint effusion after high-speed exercise. Another four horses (2 Thoroughbred racehorses, 1 Standardbred racehorse, 1 Warmblood) had haemarthrosis of the tarsocrural joint and presented with mild, intermittent lameness (median, grade 1) and marked, persistent joint effusion. Six of the eight horses had recurrent haemarthrosis prior to treatment. Radiographic and nuclear scintigraphic examinations did not identify bone pathology. Diagnostic arthroscopy (7 cases) identified grossly hypertrophied yellow/brown discoloured synovium. Synovial histopathology of these cases revealed chronic synovial hyperplasia with severe haemosiderosis and granulomatous inflammatory reaction of varying severity. All horses underwent rest, bandaging and phenylbutazone administration. Two horses had subtotal mechanical synovectomy, four horses had intra-articular administration of 90Y and MPA, and one horse underwent both treatments. Seven cases returned to their previous use (median time, 7 months). Haemarthrosis recurred in three horses, two of which had received the 90Y and MPA treatment. Conclusion Idiopathic haemarthrosis should be considered a differential for acute and recurrent joint related lameness and effusion. Recurrence appears not uncommon and the use of intra-articular 90Y and MPA in conjunction with a conservative management treatment protocol warrants further evaluation.