Objective—To evaluate the clinical signs, diagnosis, treatment, and outcome associated with distal interphalangeal joint (DIJ) degenerative disease in calves.
Design—Retrospective case series.
Animals—9 calves with degenerative disease of the DIJ.
Procedures—Medical records of calves with lameness for which the cause had been localized to the distal aspect of a limb but without evidence of trauma or sepsis were included. Signalment and results of physical, lameness, radiographic, and postmortem examinations were recorded. Outcomes of medical and surgical treatments were evaluated.
Results—All 9 calves had forelimb lameness (4 bilaterally). The medial digit was affected in 12 limbs and the lateral digit was affected in 9 limbs. Radiographic examination revealed bridging osteoproliferation along the abaxial and palmar aspects of affected DIJs (18/21), subchondral cyst-like lucencies (19/21), and sclerosis (16/21). The DIJ was resected in 3 calves (7 joints), resulting in resolution of lameness within 3 months. Medical management was attempted in 4 calves (6 joints), and 2 calves (6 joints) did not receive treatment; 5 calves had a normal stance within 5 months. Results of postmortem com-puted tomographic and histologic examination were in accordance with degenerative joint disease processes.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Degenerative disease of the DIJ should be considered in calves with insidious, progressive forelimb lameness. Although the etiology of this process remains undetermined, results of radiographic, computed tomographic, and histologic examinations suggested an underlying developmental anomaly, such as osteochondrosis. Surgical treatment appeared promising on the basis of postop-erative resolution of lameness in all surgically treated calves.