Anatomical variation of the spinous and transverse processes in the caudal cervical vertebrae and the first thoracic vertebra in horses.
REASONS FOR PERFORMING STUDY Arthropathy of the caudal cervical articular process joints (APJs) in the horse is documented as a cause of ataxia and paresis secondary to spinal cord compression. Enlargement of the caudal APJs is reported to increase with age, but there are no known associations of any other factors. No association of the degree of APJ enlargement with neurological signs seen has been documented. This study investigated the associations of cervical APJ enlargement at the C5-C6 and C6-C7 articulations with case subject details (breed, age, sex, usage) and clinical signs. OBJECTIVES To ascertain if there are of any associations between: the subject details and enlargement of the caudal cervical APJs; and the degree of APJ enlargement and the presence and type of clinical signs. HYPOTHESES There would be an effect of age, breed and usage on APJ grade, with no effect of sex. Association between grade and clinical signs seen was also investigated. MATERIALS AND METHODS The radiographs of 122 horses qualified for inclusion. Horses were excluded if they were known to have a neck lesion cranial to C5-C6, or if the radiographs were rotated or of poor quality. In order to standardise the interpretation of APJ enlargement, a novel grading system was developed and used. RESULTS An association was found between age and APJ grade at C5-C6 but not C6-C7. There was no association between grade, breed, sex and usage, or clinical signs seen. Data also showed a trend for increasing enlargement the more caudal the APJ. CONCLUSION AND POTENTIAL RELEVANCE The data in this study support that the size of the caudal cervical APJ at the level of C5-C6, appear to increase with age, but this enlargement may not be significant. Enlargement cannot be associated with breed, sex or discipline of the horse at present, and specific grades and therefore degree of enlargement, cannot necessarily be assumed to be the cause of neurological deficits.