Objective—To assess gait abnormalities associated with selective anesthesia of the suprascapular nerve (SSN) achieved by use of perineural catheterization and thereby determine the function of that nerve as it relates to gait in horses.
Animals—3 adult horses with no preexisting clinically apparent lameness at a walk.
Procedure—Each horse was anesthetized; the right SSN was exposed surgically for placement of a perineural catheter to permit delivery of 1 mL of 2% mepivacaine hydrochloride. Six hours after recovery from anesthesia, each horse was videotaped while walking (50-step data acquisition period) before and after administration of mepivacaine. Videotapes were reviewed and the proportion of abnormal steps before and after selective SSN anesthesia was assessed. A step was considered abnormal if a marked amount of scapulohumeral joint instability (ie, lateral luxation of the proximal portion of the humerus) was observed during the weight-bearing phase of the stride.
Results—Clinically apparent gait dysfunction was detected in all 3 horses following perineural administration of the local anesthetic agent. Anesthesia of the SSN resulted in scapulohumeral joint instability as evidenced by consistent lateral excursion of the shoulder region during the weight-bearing phase of gait at a walk. The proportion of abnormal steps before and after SSN anesthesia was significantly different in all 3 horses.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—These data support the role of the SSN in shoulder joint stability in horses and define SSN dysfunction as 1 mechanism by which the syndrome and gait dysfunction clinically referred to as sweeny may develop.