Ultrasonographic diagnosis of coxofemoral subluxation in horses

Suzanne Brenner, Mary B Whitcomb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The clinical and ultrasonographic features of seven horses with coxofemoral subluxation are presented. Affected horses included five adult geldings (11-20 years), one large pony (6 years) and a 3-month-old filly. All were lame at the walk except for the pony with grade 3/5 lameness. Lameness was acute in all horses, but three horses progressed after initial improvement. Crepitus, muscle atrophy, and pelvic asymmetry were inconsistent findings. Ultrasonographic diagnosis of subluxation required dynamic visualization of femoral head displacement from the acetabulum while placing weight on the affected limb and subsequent replacement into its normal position upon limb resting. Acetabular rim fractures and joint effusion were visible regardless of weight bearing status in six horses each. No fractures were identified in the pony; the only patient with a good outcome. Six horses had a poor outcome with severe chronic lameness, four of which were euthanized. Postmortem ventrodorsal radiographs obtained in two horses confirmed subluxation only on extended limb projections, but not on hip-flexed projections. Acetabular rim fractures were not visible radiographically in either horse but were confirmed at necropsy. Subluxation was due to an elongated but intact ligament of the head of the femur in both horses. Osteoarthrosis was evident ultrasonographically, radiographically, and at necropsy. Dynamic ultrasonography was readily performed in the standing horse and produced diagnostic images with a low frequency curvilinear transducer. The apparent poor prognosis for horses with subluxation and acetabular fracture illustrate the importance of this imaging technique to identify affected horses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-428
Number of pages6
JournalVeterinary Radiology and Ultrasound
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Acetabular fracture
  • Dislocation
  • Equine
  • Hip
  • Lameness
  • Pelvis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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