Use and Repeatability of 3D Light Scanning to Measure Transverse Dorsal Profile Size and Symmetry in the Thoracic region in Horses

Gillian Tabor, David J Marlin, J. M. Williams

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1 Citation (Scopus)
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Equine epaxial muscle size, thoracolumbar profile and symmetry in horses is of clinical interest due to relationships with pain and pathology. Flexible-curve rulers have previously been used to gather reliable, objective measures of thoracic profile, however 3D light-scanning offers a potential non-contact alternative method to estimate cross sectional area (CSA) of the region. 3D light-scans of the thoracic epaxial region were taken from ten endurance horses (7 geldings, 3 mares; 8±2 years). Total CSA of the combined epaxial musculature, using computer software, was calculated at scapula and T18 levels (depth: 15cm). Intra and inter-rater (n=3) reliability of CSA measurements was assessed using Friedman’s analyses and post-hoc Wilcoxon rank tests (three repeated measures). Intraclass correlation estimates (ICC±95% confidence intervals (CI)) were calculated (mean-rating, absolute-agreement, 2-way mixed-effects model). Paired t-tests assessed differences between right and left areas. No significant differences existed for transverse plane-cuts (scapula, T18 P>0.05) between light-scans. Right and left areas were significantly different at the withers (p=0.012) with the left side larger in 70% of scans, but no significant differences were found between sides at T18. No differences existed for different plane-cuts of the same horse (p=0.53; ICC: 0.76; CIs: 0.43-0.92). While reliability was reduced between all raters (p=0.02; ICC: 0.70; CIs: 0.56-0.82), no significant differences occurred between two different assessors experienced in using the software (p=0.88; ICC: 0.90; CIs: 0.82-0.95). Intra-rater reliability for assessing thoracic profile and inter-rater reliability ICC values with experienced analysts was interpreted as good/excellent. The results suggest 3D light-scanning is an objective, non-invasive method to record size and symmetry of the epaxial region in horses and warrants validity testing against current measurement methods such as the flexible-curve ruler.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-451
Number of pages7
JournalComparative Exercise Physiology
Issue number5
Early online date7 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2022


  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
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  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Veterinary (miscellaneous)


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