Equine laminitis model: cryotherapy reduces the severity of lesions evaluated seven days after induction with oligofructose

Equine Vet J. 2009 Nov;41(8):741-6. doi: 10.2746/042516409x434116.


Reasons for performing study: A previous preliminary study demonstrated the potential of distal limb cryotherapy (DLC) for preventing laminitis. Clinically, DLC must be effective for periods longer than 48 h and the preventive effect must extend beyond its discontinuation.

Objectives: To evaluate the effect of DLC, applied during the developmental phase of induced laminitis, on the severity of clinical laminitis and lamellar histopathology 7 days after dosing.

Methods: Eighteen normal Standardbred horses were divided into 3 groups of 6. Continuous cryotherapy was applied for 72 h to the distal limbs of the first group. The second and third groups were administered laminitis inducing doses of oligofructose and 72 h of cryotherapy applied (immediately after dosing) to the second group. After clinical assessment all horses were subjected to euthanasia 7 days after dosing and hoof lamellar tissues were harvested and analysed.

Results: In the laminitis induced horses clinical lameness and laminitis histopathology was significantly reduced in horses that underwent 72 h of DLC compared with untreated controls. Cryotherapy alone produced no significant lameness or other ill effect.

Conclusions: Continuous, medium- to long-term (72 h) cryotherapy applied to the distal limbs of horses safely and effectively ameliorates the clinical signs and pathology of acute laminitis.

Potential relevance: Pre-emptive distal limb cryotherapy is a practical method of ameliorating laminitis in ill horses at risk of developing the disease.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cryotherapy / veterinary*
  • Female
  • Foot Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Foot Diseases / pathology
  • Foot Diseases / therapy
  • Hoof and Claw / pathology*
  • Horse Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Horse Diseases / pathology
  • Horse Diseases / therapy
  • Horses
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Inflammation / therapy
  • Inflammation / veterinary
  • Male
  • Oligosaccharides / toxicity*
  • Time Factors


  • Oligosaccharides
  • oligofructose