Effect of repeated through-and-through joint lavage on serum amyloid A in synovial fluid from healthy horses.
The condition of septic arthritis was treated in 12 foals with 21 affected joints (Group I) and in 27 adult horses. The adult horses were divided into three groups, based on aetiology of the condition: haematogenous (Group II, n = 6), iatrogenic (Group III, n = 6), and perforating trauma (Group IV, n = 15). The treatment consisted of an initial systemic antibiotic that anticipated the microbial agents that were considered most likely per group, repeated through-and-through joint lavages every other day and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The antibiotics were adjusted to the results of bacteriological culture and susceptibility tests. Joint lavages were continued until the white blood cell count dropped below 15 G/l and bacteriological culture was negative, after which a single dose of a short-acting corticosteroid was administered intra-articularly. Joint recovery rate in group I was 71%. Patient recovery rate of the foals, however, was lower (42%). Three foals were killed for reasons other than arthritis; one foal because of an arthritis-related problem and three foals because of persistent arthritis. Overall joint recovery rate, equalling patient recovery rate, in the adult horses was 81%. The expected predominance of Streptococcus spp. in haematogenous arthritis in adult horses was not confirmed, indicating that in these cases also, an initial antibiotic treatment with a broad-spectrum combination is preferable. It is concluded that with intensive treatment, the prognosis of septic arthritis in the adult horse can be classified as fair to even good. Results in the foals are not as good, but this seems to be more due to the specific problems surrounding the equine neonate than to unresponsiveness to the treatment.