Scintigraphic evaluation of the thoracic spine in the asymptomatic riding horse.
Scintigraphic evaluation of the spinous processes of the equine spine has been done by subjective evaluation of radiotracer uptake in clinically abnormal horses. To determine the range of variation in asymptomatic riding horses, 33 normal horses were examined. Two 60 degrees oblique views of the thoracic and lumbar spine were evaluated subjectively, and a semi quantitative method based on standardized regions of interest in each spinous process in T10-L3 was also applied. A ratio between each spinous process and a reference area (Rib 15 or 16) was calculated. The effects of two different color displays and a smoothing filter were assessed. The results of the subjective evaluation was compared to the calculated ratios, and the associations between age, gender, weight, height, use and increased radiotracer uptake, and ratios were analyzed. No significant association was found between age, gender, weight, height, use and increased radiotracer uptake, or ratio. One or more areas of increased radiotracer uptake between T13 and T18 were common in the asymptomatic riding horse, which may have implications for the interpretation of clinical patients. The blue, green and red color display had a higher sensitivity for detecting increased radiotracer uptake compared to the continuous grayscale. The smoothing filter used in this study had no effect on the detection of areas with increased radiotracer uptake. The association between the results of the subjective evaluation and the semi quantitative method was apparent when analyzed in T13-17. To evaluate if the semi quantitative method can replace the subjective evaluation, studies on clinically affected horses are necessary.