An investigation into factors associated with survival and return to function of horses with synovial infections

Dani Crosby, Bryan Hilbert, Raphael Labens, Sharon Nielsen, Kris Hughes

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Synovial infections (SI) are common in horses, and affected individuals can have high rates of morbidity and mortality. The aim of this study was to identify factors that influence survival and return to function for horses presented to the Veterinary Clinical Centre (VCC), Charles Sturt University with SI.
Materials and methods: Information on signalment, synovial structure(s) involved, history, results of diagnostic testing, treatment and outcome was collected retrospectively from medical records of all horses with SI that presented to the VCC between 1 April 2008 and 1 May 2017. Long term follow up was done using a combination of semi-structured telephone discussion on clinical outcomes and analysis of online race records ( and to determine if horses that were discharged from hospital returned to previous or intended use. Charles Sturt University Animal Care and Ethics (A16065), and Human Research Ethics (H17143) approval were obtained for data collection and client follow-up, respectively. Descriptive data were generated. Univariate models were created using generalised linear and linear mixed models and multivariable logistic regression analysis was performed to determine significant factors associated with survival to discharge and return to function.
Results: Of 186 horses presented with SI, 161 were treated (86.6%) and 145 survived to discharge (90.1%). Of the 145 horses that survived, 17 (11.7%) were lost to follow up and 8 (5.5%) were excluded from return to function analysis as they were an insufficient age to function at their intended use at the time of follow up. Seventy-eight horses returned to function (65%). From univariate analyses, the number of involved synovial structures (P=0.029) the number of days a horse was treated with systemic anti-microbial drugs (P=0.007) and the use of regional antimicrobial treatment (P=0.043) were significantly associated with survival. Number of days treated with systemic antimicrobial drugs was retained in the final model for survival (OR 1.15, 95% CI 1.04-1.27, P=0.025). Animal age (P=0.043), number of days of hospitalisation (P=0.006), hospitalisation cost (P=0.022), number of days treated with systemic anti-microbial drugs (P=0.045), treatment with doxycycline (P=0.005), number of antimicrobial drugs used (P=0.04), complications associated with treatment for SI (P=0.023), how many times intra-thecal anti-microbial administration was done (P=0.002) and how many times intra-thecal and regional anti-microbial administration was done (P=0.027) were significantly associated with return to function in univariable analyses. In the final multivariable model, horses treated with doxycycline were 2.5 times less likely to return to previous function (OR 0.39, 95% CI 0.19-0.8, P = 0.031).
Relevance to Australian clinical equine practice: The rates of survival and return to function and factors associated with these outcomes will give practitioners and horse owners a guide when predicting the outcome for horses with SI and developing treatment plans. The greater number of days horses are treated with systemic anti-microbial drugs proportionally increases the likelihood of survival to discharge from hospital; however, the predicted return to function is decreased. While not significant in the multivariable model in this study, the regional administration of antimicrobial drugs may contribute to increased odds of survival in horses with SI.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018
Event40th Bain Fallon Memorial Lectures - Hyatt Regency, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 15 Jul 201819 Jul 2018


Conference40th Bain Fallon Memorial Lectures
OtherThe Bain Fallon Memorial Lectures are presented annually over 5 days by renowned international speakers each July. Equine Veterinarians Australia (EVA) aim to make these annual lectures the premier resource for the continuing education of equine interest veterinarians in the southern hemisphere. The complete archive of Bain Fallon Proceedings on SciQuest contains the full text of all articles published since the inaugural meeting in 1974 to date, in fully indexed and searchable format. Currently this comprises more than 650 high-quality articles covering a wide range of topics in equine medicine, surgery, nutrition and reproduction, making this an unparalleled resource for equine practitioners.


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