Christopher Kawcak

Professor Clinical Sciences


(970) 297-4139

About Christopher

Dr. Kawcak is Professor of Orthopedics and is on of a team of researchers working to find ways to prevent and treat catastrophic injuries in equine athletes. He also assesses three-dimensional imaging techniques, MRI and CT to diagnose early joint disease and microscopic joint injuries before these develop into serious injuries. Working with researchers in biomedical engineering, the team has developed biomechanical models to assess risk factors specific to each individual athlete with implications for human bone and joint disease. Dr. Kawcak specializes in equine orthopedics and sports medicine.


PhD, Colorado State University, 1998Master of Science, Colorado State University, 1995Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Colorado State University, 1991Bachelor of Science, University of Nevada-Reno, 1988


Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgery
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation


Kim W, Kawcak CE, McIlwraith CW, Firth EC, Broom ND. Early exercise and lesion development in the equine midcarpal joint: a detailed structural and histomorphometric study. Am J Vet Res 2010. In Press.Werpy NM, Ho CP, Kawcak CE. Magic angle effect in normal collateral ligaments of the distal interphalangeal joint in horses imaged with a high-field magnetic resonance imaging system. Vet Radiol Ultrasound 2010;51:2-10.Kawcak CE. The stifle. In, GM Baxter (Ed), Adams’ and Stashak’s Lameness in Horses, 6th ed. Elsevier, 2010, In Press. Kawcak CE and Baxter GM. Bone. In, GM Baxter (Ed), Adams’ and Stashak’s Lameness in Horses, 6th ed. Elsevier, 2010, In Press.Merrit JS, Pandy MG, Brown NA, Burvill CR, Kawcak CE, McIlwraith CW, Davies HM. Mechanical loading of the distal end of the third metacarpal bone in horses during walking and trotting. Am J Vet Res 2010;71:508-514.Kawcak CE. Models of Equine Joint Disease. In, Ross MW, et al. (Eds), Diagnosis and Management of Lameness in the Horse. Philadelphia, Elsevier Saunders. 2011:673-677.Kawcak CE, Trotter GW. Other Joint Conditions. In, Ross MW, et al. (Eds), Diagnosis and Management of Lameness in the Horse. Philadelphia, Elsevier Saunders. 2011:691-694.Kawcak CE, Frisbie DD, McIlwraith CW. Effects of extracorporeal shockwave therapy and polysulfated glycosaminoglycan therapy on subchondral bone and serum and synovial fluid biomarkers in an equine osteoarthritis model. Am J Vet Res 2010 In Press. Wagner A, Khursheed M, Contino E, Ferris D, Kawcak CE. Evaluation of standing sedation in horses using xylazine, butorphanol, and subanesthetic doses of ketamine. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2010 In PressLeahy PD, Smith BS, Easton KL, Kawcak CE, Eickhoff JC, Shetye SS, Puttlitz CM. Correlation of mechanical properties within the equine third metacarpal with trabecular bending and multi-density micro-computed tomography data. Bone 2010;46:1108-1113.Kawcak CE, McIlwraith CW, Firth E. Effects of early exercise on metacarpophalangeal joints in horses. Am Vet J Res 2010;71:405-411.McIlwraith CW, Frisbie DD, Kawcak CE. Evaluation of intramuscularly administered sodium pentosan polysulfate for treatment of horses with experimentally induced osteoarthritis. Am J Vet Res Submitted 2010.Ferris DJ, Frisbie DD, McIlwraith CW, Kawcak CE. Current joint therapy usage in equine practice: A survey of veterinarians, 2009. Equine Vet J 2010 In Press. Kawcak CE, McIlwraith CW. Comparison of synovial fluid in middle carpal joints undergoing needle aspiration, infusion with saline and infusion with a combination of n-acetyl-D-glucosamine, hyaluronic acid and sodium chondroitin sulfate. J Equine Vet Sci 2010 Accepted.McIlwraith CW, Frisbie DD, Kawcak CE, Fuller CJ, Hurtig M, Cruz A, Aigner T. Recommendation of criteria for the evaluation of macroscopic and histological changes occurring in equine osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2010;18 (Suppl 3):S93-105.McIlwraith CW, Frisbie DD, Rodkey WG, Kisiday JD, Werpy NM, Kawcak CE, Steadman JR. Evaluation of intraarticular mesenchymal stem cells to augment healing of microfractured chondral defects. Arthroscopy Submitted. 2010.Kawcak CE. The carpus. In, GM Baxter (Ed), Adams’ and Stashak’s Lameness in Horses, 6th ed. Elsevier, 2010, In Press.Harrison SM, Whitton RC, Kawcak CE, Stover SM, Pandy MG, Haussler KK. Relationship between muscle forces, joint loading and utilization of elastic strain energy in the distal forelimb of the horse. J Exp Biol 2010;213:3998-4009.

Research Specialty

Equine Exclusive/PredominantJoint injuryPerformance horse workload