Objective—To evaluate the efficacy and safety of intra-articular administration of ethyl alcohol for arthrodesis of tarsometatarsal joints in horses.
Animals—8 healthy female horses without lameness or radiographic evidence of tarsal joint osteoarthritis.
Procedure—In each horse, 1 tarsometatarsal joint was treated with 4 mL of 70% ethyl alcohol and the opposite joint was treated with 4 mL of 95% ethyl alcohol. Lameness examinations were performed daily for 2 weeks, followed by monthly evaluations for the duration of the 12-month study. Radiographic evaluations of both tarsi were performed 1 month after injection and every 3 months thereafter. Gross and histologic examinations of the tarsi were undertaken at completion of the study.
Results—Horses had minimal to no lameness associated with the treatments. Radiography revealed that 8 of 16 joints were fused by 4 months after treatment, with significantly more joints fused in the 70% ethyl alcohol group. Fifteen of 16 joints were considered fused at postmortem examination at 12 months. Gross and histologic examinations revealed foci of dense mature osteonal bone spanning the joint spaces. Bony fusion appeared to be concentrated on the dorsolateral, centrolateral, and plantarolateral aspects of the joints. Significant differences were not detected between treatment groups for lameness or pathologic findings.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Administration of ethyl alcohol into the tarsometatarsal joint of healthy horses appeared to facilitate arthrodesis of the joint in a pain-free manner. Results warrant further investigation into the potential use of ethyl alcohol in horses clinically affected with osteoarthritis of the tarsometatarsal and distal intertarsal joints.