Thoracic trauma in foals: post mortem findings.

Equine veterinary journal

PubMedID: 12553467

Schambourg MA, Laverty S, Mullim S, Fogarty UM, Halley J. Thoracic trauma in foals: post mortem findings. Equine Vet J. 2003;35(1):78-81.
Thoracic trauma occurs in newborn foals and may cause associated clinical signs; this condition remains poorly documented.

The purpose of this study was to describe the pathological features of thoracic trauma in newborn foals presented for necropsy examination between 1990 and 2000.

Necropsy reports of foals with thoracic trauma from 1990-2000 were reviewed. Subject details, clinical signs, thoracic and abdominal lesions were noted and analysed statistically.

Sixty-seven (9%) of 760 necropsied foals had thoracic trauma. In 19 foals, fractured ribs were considered to be the cause of death (Group A). The remaining foals had fractured ribs (Group B, n = 20) or rib contusions (Group C, n = 28) that were incidental findings. Ribs 3 to 8 accounted for 86% of the traumatised bones. The most common site of injury was the costochondral junction and an area immediately above it (94%). In Group A, all but 2 foals died within the first 8 days postpartum. Haemothorax and subsequent pulmonary collapse was cited most commonly as the cause of death (53%). Diaphragmatic rupture and hernia (n = 2) also occurred.

The focal site, consistent location and presence of lesions during the first week post partum, all suggest that thoracic trauma in newborn foals probably occurs during parturition.

The description of lesions and site of occurrence of thoracic trauma in foals will increase awareness and improve the diagnosis and treatment of this life threatening condition.