Assessing the Association Between Hoof Thermography and Hoof Doppler Ultrasonography for the Diagnosis of Lameness in Horses

Teresa L. Douthit, Jennifer M. Bormann, Nora M. Bello
February 2014
Journal of Equine Veterinary Science

The objectives of this study were to assess the correlation between hoof surface temperature and ultrasonographic measurements of digital blood vessels in horses and to evaluate the measurements' potential as predictors for clinical lameness. Twelve 3-year-old American Quarter Horses, 6 geldings and 6 mares, with average initial body weight of 459 ± 31 kg were used. On days 0, 30, 60, and 90 of the study, horses were weighed and subjected to clinical lameness examinations. Doppler ultrasonography was used to measure diameter of the medial palmar artery in the distal left forelimb and velocity of blood flow through that artery, starting at 60 minutes after morning feeding and repeated at 30-minute intervals. Temperature measurements on the hoof were collected at 15-minute intervals beginning 75 minutes after feeding, using a digital thermographic camera. A series of bivariate linear mixed models were fitted to estimate the correlation between Doppler and temperature measurements. The within-horse and between-horse correlations between hoof surface temperature and velocity of blood flow in the distal limb through the medial palmar artery was estimated at 0.40 (P > .50) and 0.99 (P < .001), respectively. These results indicate that at the horse level, the correlation between hoof temperature and velocity of blood flow in the distal limb was very high but that the within-horse correlation was not significantly different from 0. Velocity of blood flow at 60 minutes after feeding improved model fit to the lameness data, so it was included as a model predictor for lameness