Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Radiography, X-ray, Carpus



Carpus radiographs are a standard diagnostic. They are most often performed on flat racing horses that tend to suffer from more carpus-related injuries.

This diagnostic is also a basic screening test for diagnosing a fracture of the carpus, locating small fragments that have separated from the small carpal bones. These radiographs can also help diagnose arthritis in this area.

Typically, in this series five radiographs are taken from different angles around the carpus. “Skyline views” are taken as needed to highlight specific areas on the front surface of the carpus.

Sometimes trainers request an x-ray view of the growth plate at the end of the radius to determine radiographic closure of the growth plate as an index of maturity and readiness for heavy training. This diagnostic is probably not of much value as a predictor of anything. That said, closure is ranked as A- Closed, B,C- partially open and D Wide Open.

Reasons to UseRelated Observations


High quality radiographs of the carpus provide valuable information regarding the bony structures within this area. Even if there are no obvious issues in this area at the time, radiographs may provide a useful baseline for future comparison.


Commonly, arthroscopic exploration of a joint proves that even horses with normal radiographs have obvious pathology when the surface of the joint is visualized.

Radiographs taken to indicate readiness for training are probably not that helpful.


  • Will these radiographs change the treatment you will perform today?
  • Will the results alter the prognosis?
  • How much will the radiographs cost?
  • I have old radiographs, can we look at those instead or in combination with these?
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    Gabel AA, Spencer CP, Pipers FS. A study of correlation of closure of the distal radial physis with performance and injury in the Standardbred. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1977;15;170(2):188-94.


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