"We're definitely learning a great deal with the use of CT now," Hogan adds. "We did a lot of that when I was at Ruffian Equine
Medical Center, in Elmont, N.Y., last year, where we performed CT on every condylar fracture. Our intern, Sarah Gray, BVSc,
presented a paper regarding our findings in October at the ACVS meeting in Seattle. In every single fractured limb that we
performed a CT on, there was a measurable difference in bone density between the fractured condyle and the nonfractured one.
We could see that there was sclerosis or a brittleness that occurs in the bone. We have all known that this is occurring,
but being able to measure it is just one more piece of information that will ultimately contribute to our objective of minimizing
this injury in the racehorse. There is more and more that we are finding out as far as preventing these fractures or finding
them early. Certainly bone scans have been extremely helpful, when people will do them."
"I do think that condylar fractures are not single-event injuries but a stress accumulation-type of injury," Hogan says. "The
more science that we commit to this problem, the more we learn and realize that it's true. It is rarely the 'took-a-bad-step'
scenario. These horses have underlying disease that is going on in the bone, in particular the lateral condyle of the cannon
bone. This compromised portion of the bone develops a fault line, and then it just breaks."
"We see so many condylar fractures, and some can be really challenging," Hogan says. "Your goal is to get a racehorse back
to training and racing."
With the advances in technology and better understanding of these fractures, they may some day be a thing of the past. "The
day is coming when I may be out of business repairing condylar fractures because the more we learn about them, the smarter
we are about detecting early bone changes," Hogan says. "Very soon, condylar fractures may be one of the less common fractures
occurring in the racing Thoroughbred."
Ed Kane, PhD, is a researcher and consultant in animal nutrition. He is an author and editor on nutrition, physiology and
veterinary medicine with a background in horses, pets and livestock. He is based in Seattle.