Ask Your Veterinarian: When To Radiograph Sale Horses

QUESTION: Speaking from a buyer’s perspective, when (if ever) does it make sense to have your veterinarian shoot their own X-rays in the course of doing a pre-sale work-up on a horse?

DR. BART BARBER: Any time that your veterinarian has a question and would like to either repeat a specific joint or get additional views it is very important to do so.

There are times when the radiographs in the repository, even high-quality films, leave the reader with questions. It may be unclear as to a lesion’s severity, its exact location, or if there is a lesion at all or just an artifact. At these times the veterinarian will either repeat the same views or take something entirely different that falls outside of the normal survey protocol to bring more clarity to picture.

There are also times when a buyer may wish to have something radiographed that is not part of the usual survey. The most common area that would fit into this category would be the feet. It would also be wise to repeat radiographs if there has been a recent injury.

As far as repeating the entire survey, there may be occasions that it would be justified. The radiographs in the repository are an accurate representation of the horse to be presented in the ring the vast majority of the time. That said, those films were taken as far out as three weeks before the sale and there is a possibility that things could have changed in that time. The other consideration would be if the films in the repository were of very low quality, which is not common. This would have to be a personal decision that is made by the buying team that considers the risk, the cost of the radiographs and the value of the horse.

Dr. Bart Barber, DVM, graduated from Washington State University in 1998 and completed his internship at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. He is a shareholder in Rood and Riddle’s veterinary practice and specializes in reproduction, primary and preventative ambulatory care, as well as operations at Rood and Riddle Veterinary Pharmacy.

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