Stress reactions and stress fractures of the proximal palmar aspect of the third metacarpal bone in horses: 58 cases (1980-1990)

R. Scott Pleasant From the Departments or Veterinary Clinical Medicine (Pleasant, Baker, Foreman, Boero) and Veterinary Biosciences (Muhlbauer), College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801.

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 DVM, MS
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Gordon J. Baker From the Departments or Veterinary Clinical Medicine (Pleasant, Baker, Foreman, Boero) and Veterinary Biosciences (Muhlbauer), College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801.

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Michael C. Muhlbauer From the Departments or Veterinary Clinical Medicine (Pleasant, Baker, Foreman, Boero) and Veterinary Biosciences (Muhlbauer), College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801.

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Jonathan H. Foreman From the Departments or Veterinary Clinical Medicine (Pleasant, Baker, Foreman, Boero) and Veterinary Biosciences (Muhlbauer), College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801.

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Michael J. Boero From the Departments or Veterinary Clinical Medicine (Pleasant, Baker, Foreman, Boero) and Veterinary Biosciences (Muhlbauer), College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801.

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Summary

The case records, radiographs, and nuclear bone scans of 58 horses with stress reactions or stress fractures of the proximal palmar aspect of the third metacarpal bone (MC3) were reviewed. There were 47 Standardbreds, 4 Quarter Horses, 3 Thoroughbreds, 2 Arabians, 1 Oldenburg, and 1 Pony of America. Fifty-six of the horses were racehorses or performance horses. The mean and median ages of affected horses were 4 and 3 years, respectively. Lameness ranged from mild to severe. Physical findings were usually subtle and included signs of pain on deep palpation of the proximal palmar aspect of MC3 and slight effusion of the middle carpal joint in some cases. Lameness was commonly improved by high palmar and palmar metacarpal nerve blocks or anesthesia of the middle carpal joint. Fifty-three horses had higher than normal radiopharmaceutical uptake in the proximal palmar aspect of MC3 in the left or right limb. The other 5 horses had higher than normal radiopharmaceutical uptake bilaterally. Fifty-six of the 63 limbs with abnormal bone scans also had abnormal radiographs. Treatment consisted of a variable period of rest (1 to 6 months). Healing was best assessed by follow-up bone scans. Of the 45 horses for which follow-up information was adequate, 29 (64%) returned to their previous level of performance.

Summary

The case records, radiographs, and nuclear bone scans of 58 horses with stress reactions or stress fractures of the proximal palmar aspect of the third metacarpal bone (MC3) were reviewed. There were 47 Standardbreds, 4 Quarter Horses, 3 Thoroughbreds, 2 Arabians, 1 Oldenburg, and 1 Pony of America. Fifty-six of the horses were racehorses or performance horses. The mean and median ages of affected horses were 4 and 3 years, respectively. Lameness ranged from mild to severe. Physical findings were usually subtle and included signs of pain on deep palpation of the proximal palmar aspect of MC3 and slight effusion of the middle carpal joint in some cases. Lameness was commonly improved by high palmar and palmar metacarpal nerve blocks or anesthesia of the middle carpal joint. Fifty-three horses had higher than normal radiopharmaceutical uptake in the proximal palmar aspect of MC3 in the left or right limb. The other 5 horses had higher than normal radiopharmaceutical uptake bilaterally. Fifty-six of the 63 limbs with abnormal bone scans also had abnormal radiographs. Treatment consisted of a variable period of rest (1 to 6 months). Healing was best assessed by follow-up bone scans. Of the 45 horses for which follow-up information was adequate, 29 (64%) returned to their previous level of performance.

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