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Surgical and nonsurgical management of sagittal slab fractures of the third carpal bone in racehorses: 32 cases (1991–2001)

Beth M. KrausDepartment of Clinical Studies–New Bolton Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348.

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Michael W. RossDepartment of Clinical Studies–New Bolton Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348.

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Raymond C. BostonDepartment of Clinical Studies–New Bolton Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348.

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Abstract

Objective—To compare results (ie, return to racing and earnings per race start) of surgical versus nonsurgical management of sagittal slab fractures of the third carpal bone in racehorses.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—32 racehorses (19 Thoroughbreds, 11 Standardbreds, and 2 Arabians).

Procedure—Medical records and radiographs were reviewed to obtain information regarding signalment and treatment. Follow-up information was obtained from race records. Robust regression analysis was performed to evaluate earnings per start in horses that raced at least once before and after injury.

Results—22 (69%) horses raced at least once after treatment of the fracture. All 7 horses treated by means of interfragmentary compression raced after treatment, and horses that underwent interfragmentary compression had significantly higher earnings per start after the injury than did horses treated without surgery. Eight of 9 horses treated by means of arthroscopic debridement of the damaged cartilage and bone raced after treatment, but only 7 of 16 horses treated without surgery (ie, stall rest) were able to return to racing after treatment.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that racehorses with sagittal slab fractures of the third carpal bone have a favorable prognosis for return to racing after treatment. Horses treated surgically were more likely to race after treatment than were horses treated without surgery. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005;226:945–950)

Abstract

Objective—To compare results (ie, return to racing and earnings per race start) of surgical versus nonsurgical management of sagittal slab fractures of the third carpal bone in racehorses.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—32 racehorses (19 Thoroughbreds, 11 Standardbreds, and 2 Arabians).

Procedure—Medical records and radiographs were reviewed to obtain information regarding signalment and treatment. Follow-up information was obtained from race records. Robust regression analysis was performed to evaluate earnings per start in horses that raced at least once before and after injury.

Results—22 (69%) horses raced at least once after treatment of the fracture. All 7 horses treated by means of interfragmentary compression raced after treatment, and horses that underwent interfragmentary compression had significantly higher earnings per start after the injury than did horses treated without surgery. Eight of 9 horses treated by means of arthroscopic debridement of the damaged cartilage and bone raced after treatment, but only 7 of 16 horses treated without surgery (ie, stall rest) were able to return to racing after treatment.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that racehorses with sagittal slab fractures of the third carpal bone have a favorable prognosis for return to racing after treatment. Horses treated surgically were more likely to race after treatment than were horses treated without surgery. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005;226:945–950)