Podcast #119 – Kissing Spine and Vestibular Disease In Horses

The Equine Practice Inc, The Horse's Advocate

Published on March 27, 2024

In this podcast, I discuss two diseases that affect horses: Kissing Spine, which involves the overriding spinous processes, and peripheral vestibular disease, which is discussed at about the 16 to 17-minute mark.

Kissing Spine is a relatively new condition discovered thanks to advancements in X-ray technology. The images show abnormal bone on and between the upright vertebrae spines. However, some veterinarians question the significance of finding these lesions on the X-ray of the thoracolumbar spines as the cause of pain in the horse. According to a new paper, lesions seen on X-rays may be developmental in young horses and not necessarily a result of weight placed on the horse’s back.

Peripheral vestibular disease causes a head tilt, one drooping ear, one half-closed eyelid with an unconstricted pupil, and a nose drawn to one side. There are several potential causes, the most common being “idiopathic,” which means the cause is unknown. Fortunately, advancements in diagnostic technology are providing more information to identify the underlying cause.

While advanced technology is critical to understanding equine health, it is essential to use it cautiously to avoid accepting visible differences as causal. Just because we observe them does not necessarily mean that they are problematic. Sometimes, we need to look elsewhere for the root cause of the issue.

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