Evaluation of the effect of extracorporeal shock wave treatment on experimentally induced osteoarthritis in middle carpal joints of horses

David D. Frisbie, DVM, PhD; Christopher E. Kawcak, DVM, PhD; C. Wayne McIlwraith, BVSc, PhD
American Journal of Veterinary Research
April 2009

Objective—To assess the clinical, biochemical, and histologic effects of extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) in the treatment of horses with experimentally induced osteoarthritis (OA).

Animals—Twenty-four 2- to 3-year-old horses without evidence of lameness.

Procedures—OA was induced arthroscopically in 1 middle carpal joint of each horse. Fourteen days after induction of OA, horses were treated with a sham ESWT probe (placebo; n = 8), polysulfated glycosaminoglycan (PSGAG) administered IM every 4 days for 28 days as a positive control treatment (8), or ESWT administered on days 14 and 28 with a focused shock wave unit (8). Evaluations included clinical assessments of degree of lameness every 2 weeks and weekly synovial fluid analyses. Horses were euthanized 70 days after induction of OA, and gross pathologic and histologic examinations of cartilage and synovial membrane specimens were performed at necropsy. A generalized linear mixed model was used to compare outcomes among treatment groups.

Results—No adverse treatment-related events were detected in any horse. The degree of lameness in horses treated with ESWT improved significantly, compared with the degree of lameness in placebo- or PSGAG-treated horses. No disease-modifying effects were evident in results for synovial fluid, synovial membranes, or cartilage from the ESWT- or PSGAG-treated horses.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Although a disease-modifying effect of ESWT was not detected, the significant clinical effect of ESWT suggested that this modality should be considered for treatment of horses with OA in combination with another modality that does affect the disease process.

Large animal: