Category Archives: Medical

An update on Degenerative Suspensory Ligament Disease






A year or so ago, I wrote about DSLD and today I saw this update, so I’d like to present it, in case any of you need this information and missed it.

Click here to go to the original article!

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Click to read the original story.

Click to read the original story.

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DSLD is thought to run in families.  It’s somewhat somewhat similar to some hereditary diseases that affect connective and musculoskeletal tissues in people such as Marfan syndrome (on a completely unrelated note, some people think that Abraham Lincoln may have had Marfan syndrome), or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.  Like these diseases, DSLD ultimately leads to breakdown of connective tissue.

As the supporting connective tissues of the limb break down in affected horses, you might see any number of clinical signs.  The fetlocks drop towards the ground, pasterns move towards horizontal, and hocks and stifles straighten out.   Sometimes affected horses have a hard time
standing when the opposite leg is held up due to the pain.  You can sometimes feel  enlargement and/or hardening of any or all of the suspensory ligaments (even though the problem is horse-wide).  DSLD frequently leads to persistent, incurable lameness, especially of the hind limbs.  The disease is slow, and progressive, and affected horses are often ultimately euthanized due to breakdown of their limbs – a horse that’s walking on the ground with its fetlocks is not pretty to see.

Diagnosis of DSLD is typically based on family or breed history (horses that have DSLD tend to breed more horses with DSLD), clinical examination of the horse with sinking fetlocks, and ultrasonography of the affected ligament(s), which shows mostly that the tissues are breaking down, but for no specific reason.  In fact, up until a few years ago, the final diagnosis of DSLD was always pretty much a matter of waiting and seeing what happened to the horse – if they got really bad, and nobody could do anything about it, bingo, the diagnosis was made (albeit a bit late).

In 2006, however, some very clever investigators at the University of Georgia started to unravel the mysteries of the disease.  As good scientists like to do, particularly when they’ve found something really revolutionary (but even when they are just trying to get tenure), they’ve published their findings.

CLICK HERE to see the article, “Degenerative suspensory ligament desmitis as a systemic disorder characterized by proteoglycan accumulation,” published from the Department of Large Animal Medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia.

Out of this work came a technique to suggest a diagnosis for DSLD, based on biopsy of the nuchal ligament, a big, tough ligament that connects the poll to the withers, and helps hold the horse’s head an neck in position.  Don’t worry, your veterinarian can take a small piece of the ligament, and your horse will still be able to hold up his head.  For information on this, have your veterinarian contact:

Dr. Jaroslava Halper, Department of Pathology
College of Veterinary Medicine, The University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602-7388
Phone: 1-706-542-5830
Fax: 1-706-542-5828
e-mail: jhalper@vet.uga.edu

Now for the really bad news;  there is currently no cure for DSLD. Of course, the lack of a cure should stop absolutely no one from trying to find a cure, and it doesn’t even stop a few people from claiming that they do have a cure.  SupportGroup.3Internet support groups have formed, and various treatments have been proposed, but nothing has really been shown to slow down the disease – and certainly not cure it – in good studies (trust me, if there was anything that really worked to cure a horse of DSLD, everyone would be using it).

The typical treatment for a DSLD horse is based on things that people think that the ought to do, such as “supporting” the limb by means of various shoeing and bandaging techniques, reduction in exercise, and pain relievers, as needed.  More novel therapies, and various supplements, have also been proposed.  Unfortunately, ultimately no treatment has been shown to be effective in stopping disease progression (and since you don’t know how the disease will progress in any one horse, it’s hard to say how it might have done without the treatment that you think is working).

The best way to deal with DSLD is to try to avoid it.  If you’re purchasing a horse from an affected breed, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to look into its genetic history (if possible).  Ultimately, selective breeding and identification of affected strains – as has occurred with HYPP – will be needed to eliminate this problem.

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Have you heard of PREGTEST and PREGSCAN? External ultrasound to detect pregnancy? Wow! I need one for Annnie!






While pondering if Annie is pregnant (she is a rescue mare who was ‘probably’ pregnant – but isn’t showing and will not allow her hind quarters to be touched, yet, so no palpation.), it occurred to me that humans have exterior ultrasounds to find out if we are pregnant… why can’t horses?

I figured there must be a big reason like their anatomy or maybe all the hair coat… dunno.  But, I decided to GOOGLE it anyway.

And I found one!

I found an external ultrasound pregnancy checking device!

It is called, PREGSCAN.  Have you heard of it?  The manufacturer is Animark and they make a few different sizes for different farm animals as well as complimentary breeding devices.

Does anyone have one?

If you have one, could you come and check Annie?!

This company manufactures EXTERNAL ultrasound devices to show pregnancy in farm animals, including horses!

This company manufactures EXTERNAL ultrasound devices to show pregnancy in farm animals, including horses!

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Wow! If I was a breeder, this would be a great device. Or, if I was a rescuer and wanted to know if a horse (Annie) was pregnant.

USES… (no affiliation)

OK, well, I could see a breeder wanting this and maybe rescuers – certainly the BLM.   Anyone who needs to pregcheck a lot of mares and/or needs to check mares that don’t like to be palpated or are wild and there is no way they are going to be palpated without trauma.

I remember that when I was breeding, we had the vet out all the time to check the size of her egg for ovulation and AI. After AI, we had the vet out to pregcheck.  Very exciting!  But, if I ran a larger operation or if I had cattle, this would be GREAT.  It can indicate pregnancy within 14 days of conception.

For me, if I had one here today, I would use it on Annie and we’d find out – once and for all!

Here is some information from the website.

Here is more information from the website...

Here is more information from the website…

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THE COST:  THEY ARE HAVING AN INTERNET SPECIAL!…Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 3.20.51 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 3.21.01 PM

 


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