Fractures in horses have historically been considered life ending injuries. This is no longer the case at all in a majority of situations. It is still unfortunately true in a few situations where there a large open fractures with severe contamination but fractures that were considered hopeless even 5-10 years ago can now be repaired successfully. These improvements have been due to continued advances in techniques and equipment available that are designed to be used in horses.
Repair of long bone fractures or break down injuries are common examples where with careful pre-operative planning and appropriate case selection surgery can be successful in salvaging horses' lives and in some cases their athletic careers. There are often multiple options available and due to the availability of three specialist surgeons we have a wealth of clinical and research experience and these options can be clearly and simply explained to you if your horse is unfortunate enough to sustain a majo injury. It is a simple matter to call and ask for advice and rest assured the veterinarians at REC will be able to discuss all available possible options with you to ensure the best possible outcome for your horse.
Figure 1: Repair of a spiral medial condylar fracture of a cannon bone with lateral plate and lag screws.
Horses with severe degenerative joint disease can have most joints in the limb (and spine) fused. Fusing the joint eliminates movement which in turn eliminates the pain of these conditions. As an elective procedure the prognosis is much better than for open fractures and in some cases the horses can even return to very successful performance. Arthritis of the pastern joint, fetlock, knee and lower hock joints are all candidates for arthrodesis (fusion) of the joint.
Figure 2: An example of a pastern arthrodesis where screws and plates have been used to fuse the joint.
Foal Angular Limb Deformities
Angular limb deformities range from mild (that often only requires conservative treatment) to more severe, potentially life or career threatening deformities. There are different options for treating these young horses and the therapeutic choices made can have a big effect on the outcome and the cosmetic appearance of the rapidly maturing horse.
Figure 3: Radiograph during surgery of a transphyseal screw placed across the growth plate to straighten the leg.