OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of arthroscopic lavage and repeated intra-articular administration of antibiotic in adult horses and foals with septic arthritis.
STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective clinical study.
ANIMALS: Adult horses and foals with septic arthritis (n = 62).
METHODS: Age, sex, cause of septic synovitis, joint involved, hospitalization time, and outcome were recorded. Arthroscopic lavage was performed at day 0 (D 0). Synovial fluid was collected every 48 hours prior to intra-articular administration of antibiotic, and until hospital discharge. Synovial nucleated cell count, total protein, and percentage of neutrophils were compared across time and between subjects with a favorable or unfavorable outcome.
RESULTS: Synovial nucleated cell counts decreased progressively and were lower at all times compared to D 0. Percentages of neutrophils were lower than baseline at D 8 and 10, only. Total protein contents decreased progressively and were lower than baseline at D 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 14. When adult horses and foals with a favorable outcome were compared to those with an unfavorable outcome, the nucleated cell count was lower at D 10, 12, and 14 and the percentage of neutrophils was lower at D 4 only, but total protein content did not differ between groups at any time.
CONCLUSION: Synovial nucleated cell counts and total protein concentrations decreased after arthroscopic lavage and repeated intra-articular administration of antibiotic in horses and foals with septic arthritis. Synovial nucleated cell count is limited as a monitoring tool during treatment of septic arthritis.