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A longitudinal study on the performance of in vivo methods to determine the osteochondrotic status of young pigs

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Abstract
Background: In today's porcine industry, lameness has a major welfare and economic impact, and is often caused by osteochondrosis (OC). The etiological factors of the disease have been studied in depth, however, to this day, little is known about the natural course of the disorder and how it can be detected at an early stage in pigs. The aim of this pilot study was to assess the potential of three non-invasive techniques for the detection and monitoring of early OC processes in piglets. A group of weaned piglets (n = 19) were examined longitudinally using radiographs, a visual lameness scoring scheme and a quantitative pressure-mat based locomotion analysis system to detect OC in the humeroradial, femoropatellar and tarsocrural joints. At several time points, a selection of animals was euthanized for post-mortem examinations, including histology, which was the gold standard. Results: In this study, clear signs of subclinical signs of OC were observed, however, we were unsuccessful in producing clinical OC. Lesions were observed to be commonly bilaterally symmetric in the joints examined in 80 % of cases. The radiographic examinations showed a clear correlation with the gold standard, particularly when subclinical lesions were of a high histological score. Moreover, radiography was also able to detect the early repair processes, which appeared to take place at least until 14 weeks of age. Both visual scoring and pressure mat analyses showed good intra-assay reproducibility, with the pressure mat showing intra-class correlation values between 0.44 and 0.6 and the inter-observer agreement of visual scoring method was between 88 and 96 %, however their correlation to OC lesions detected by histology was very weak, with only 2 out of 12 traits for the visual scoring method showing significant and biologically logical relations to a specific joint having histological OC lesions. For the pressure mat, only a maximum of 5 associations for specific joints with histological OC lesions were found out of a possible 8. Conclusion: All tested in-vivo methods showed good reproducibility. Radiography was the most reliable technique to detect and monitor longitudinally the earliest signs of OC in these piglets. It also demonstrated that the "Point of No Return" (PNR) of the disease, when repair processes end, might be later than anticipated, after 13 weeks of age. All in all, our study shows that the timing of the use of these in-vivo methods is critical to detect and monitor OC, especially in the early phases of the disease. It also shows the difficulty in producing OC regardless of the optimization of the experimental settings in relation to the etiological factors known to induce OC.
Keywords
Osteochondrosis, Pig health, Lameness, Gait analysis, Radiography, Histology, Early detection

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Chicago
Bertholle, Christian P, Ellen Meijer, Willem Back, Arjan Stegeman, PR van Weeren, and A van Nes. 2016. “A Longitudinal Study on the Performance of in Vivo Methods to Determine the Osteochondrotic Status of Young Pigs.” Bmc Veterinary Research 12.
APA
Bertholle, C. P., Meijer, E., Back, W., Stegeman, A., van Weeren, P., & van Nes, A. (2016). A longitudinal study on the performance of in vivo methods to determine the osteochondrotic status of young pigs. BMC VETERINARY RESEARCH, 12.
Vancouver
1.
Bertholle CP, Meijer E, Back W, Stegeman A, van Weeren P, van Nes A. A longitudinal study on the performance of in vivo methods to determine the osteochondrotic status of young pigs. BMC VETERINARY RESEARCH. 2016;12.
MLA
Bertholle, Christian P, Ellen Meijer, Willem Back, et al. “A Longitudinal Study on the Performance of in Vivo Methods to Determine the Osteochondrotic Status of Young Pigs.” BMC VETERINARY RESEARCH 12 (2016): n. pag. Print.
@article{7206092,
  abstract     = {Background: In today's porcine industry, lameness has a major welfare and economic impact, and is often caused by osteochondrosis (OC). The etiological factors of the disease have been studied in depth, however, to this day, little is known about the natural course of the disorder and how it can be detected at an early stage in pigs. The aim of this pilot study was to assess the potential of three non-invasive techniques for the detection and monitoring of early OC processes in piglets. A group of weaned piglets (n = 19) were examined longitudinally using radiographs, a visual lameness scoring scheme and a quantitative pressure-mat based locomotion analysis system to detect OC in the humeroradial, femoropatellar and tarsocrural joints. At several time points, a selection of animals was euthanized for post-mortem examinations, including histology, which was the gold standard. 
Results: In this study, clear signs of subclinical signs of OC were observed, however, we were unsuccessful in producing clinical OC. Lesions were observed to be commonly bilaterally symmetric in the joints examined in 80 \% of cases. The radiographic examinations showed a clear correlation with the gold standard, particularly when subclinical lesions were of a high histological score. Moreover, radiography was also able to detect the early repair processes, which appeared to take place at least until 14 weeks of age. Both visual scoring and pressure mat analyses showed good intra-assay reproducibility, with the pressure mat showing intra-class correlation values between 0.44 and 0.6 and the inter-observer agreement of visual scoring method was between 88 and 96 \%, however their correlation to OC lesions detected by histology was very weak, with only 2 out of 12 traits for the visual scoring method showing significant and biologically logical relations to a specific joint having histological OC lesions. For the pressure mat, only a maximum of 5 associations for specific joints with histological OC lesions were found out of a possible 8. 
Conclusion: All tested in-vivo methods showed good reproducibility. Radiography was the most reliable technique to detect and monitor longitudinally the earliest signs of OC in these piglets. It also demonstrated that the {\textacutedbl}Point of No Return{\textacutedbl} (PNR) of the disease, when repair processes end, might be later than anticipated, after 13 weeks of age. All in all, our study shows that the timing of the use of these in-vivo methods is critical to detect and monitor OC, especially in the early phases of the disease. It also shows the difficulty in producing OC regardless of the optimization of the experimental settings in relation to the etiological factors known to induce OC.},
  articleno    = {62},
  author       = {Bertholle, Christian P and Meijer, Ellen and Back, Willem and Stegeman, Arjan and van Weeren, PR and van Nes, A},
  issn         = {1746-6148},
  journal      = {BMC VETERINARY RESEARCH},
  keyword      = {Osteochondrosis,Pig health,Lameness,Gait analysis,Radiography,Histology,Early detection},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {11},
  title        = {A longitudinal study on the performance of in vivo methods to determine the osteochondrotic status of young pigs},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12917-016-0682-z},
  volume       = {12},
  year         = {2016},
}

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