Broken Bones

Fractures or broken bones in the lower extremities of the horses usually exist typically somewhere between the radius, right here. Okay. The carpus or the carpal bones, the cannon bone, the fetlock, the pastern, the short pastern or coffin.

Fractures can occur at any time in these areas, due to, well if it’s a race horse it’s not unusual for you to see a chip fracture off the distal-lateral radius, which is really common or any of the carpal bones, the first or second, upper row which is the ulnar radial or central carpal bone. The cannon bone can get dorsal fractures. You can get a condylar fracture which is, you know, a front to back fracture of usually the lateral portion which can get a medial as well. You can get a sagittal fracture through the pastern.

You can get chip fractures and/or fractures of the short pastern. The coffin bone could sustain a chip fracture on the extensor process here. Or on the actual wings of the coffin into the feet. Or you could fracture the navicular. These are, all these areas are pre-disposed to this because of the amount of concussion or use of the horse. Race horses, we see these things fairly commonly.

Chip fractures in this area of the carpus, cannon bone and fetlock are very, very common. You know, I have a radiograph x-ray machine up there. My computer is full of digital radiographs of fractures in all these areas. It’s a little bit less common in the coffin bone, but it does occur from time to time in all breeds and species, all breeds and types or uses. But it’s more common probably in the thoroughbred.

The major complications associated with these fractures are loss of use. A race horse chip fractures the carpus, they basically are going to have to either have removal or time off for, if it’s a small fragment, to dissolve…to get quiet down basically for the symptoms to subside and/or respond to an injection, if that’s the course that you choose.

Cannon bone fractures, if it’s a softer fracture, the preferred treatment is a lag screw fixation or a compression fracture, you know, to go ahead and put a screw in here and compress the fracture line.

Coddler fractures we see lag screw fixation, usually one or two. Pastern the same thing, lag screw fixation. Coffin joint fractures – removal, same thing with fetlocks, removal of chip fractures.

Wing fractures, we can either go ahead and nerve the horse or try to compress that fracture in. Typically the only fractures that work for compression in the coffin bone are basically if they’re sagittal, right down the middle.

After a horse has had a fracture you have to evaluate how they’ve recovered. Okay? If the carpus stays distended, the horse stays lame it’s a problem. Then you have to make a decision to go ahead and decide if this horse needs a career change or needs a change in the level of competition he’s going to be at.

Or possibly he’s going to be retired and used for, you know, maybe just recreational use. Or if it’s breeding stock whether not you can go ahead and utilize him to be breed.

Others can come back and compete. So, each injury is unique on how they respond to the therapy. If it’s either intra-articular injection, chip fracture removal or internal fixation by compression screw or lag screw depending on location. And whether or not they have gotten sound enough to go ahead and go back to the selected use with which they were purchased or used. Whether it be a race horse, jumper, standard bred, pleasure horse or whatnot.

Or, if they need to be retired or they need basically an occupation change. If it was a race horse, maybe they could survive as a horse that’s in the flat or basically as a show horse. You have to kind of evaluate each injury as you see fit or how they respond to therapy that’s been intervened upon.