Extensor tendon lacerations in horses:50 cases (1982-1988)

James K. Belknap From the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (Belknap, Nickels), College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, and the Department of Large Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602 (Baxter).

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Gary M. Baxter From the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (Belknap, Nickels), College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, and the Department of Large Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602 (Baxter).

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Frank A. Nickels From the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (Belknap, Nickels), College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, and the Department of Large Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602 (Baxter).

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Summary

Medical records of 50 horses with extensor tendon lacerations affecting 53 limbs over 7 years (1982 to 1988) were reviewed to determine the clinical features and prognosis for athletic soundness after treatment. Mean and median ages were 4.8 and 3 years, respectively. Eighty-nine percent of the injuries involved the hind limbs, with approximately equal distribution between the right and left limbs. Hind limb lacerations involved the long digital extensor tendon (28 limbs), lateral digital extensor tendon (3 limbs), or both tendons (16 limbs). Forelimb lacerations involved the common digital extensor tendon (2 limbs), lateral digital extensor tendon (1 limb), or both tendons (3 limbs). Joint involvement was found in 6 cases. Wound management varied according to wound characteristics, financial constraints of owners, and clinician preference. External coaptation consisted of a 3-layered cotton bandage in 33 limbs, splint and cotton bandage in 12 limbs, fiberglass or plaster-of-Paris cast in 5 limbs, and no form of coaptation in 3 limbs.

Follow-up information for 40 cases at least 1 year after injury revealed that 29 (73%) horses had returned to athletic soundness, 7 (18%) horses were pasture sound, 3 horses were chronically lame, and 1 horse was euthanatized during treatment because of wound sepsis. Depending on the hind limb tendons involved, return to athletic soundness ranged from 62% (long digital and lateral digital extensor tendons lacerated) to 80% (long digital extensor tendon lacerated) The small number of forelimb lacerations precluded any comparative data. Five of 6 horses with joint involvement returned to athletic soundness. Complications during treatment included wound sepsis/cellulitis, bone sequestra/osteitis of the third metatarsus, and exuberant granulation tissue.

Summary

Medical records of 50 horses with extensor tendon lacerations affecting 53 limbs over 7 years (1982 to 1988) were reviewed to determine the clinical features and prognosis for athletic soundness after treatment. Mean and median ages were 4.8 and 3 years, respectively. Eighty-nine percent of the injuries involved the hind limbs, with approximately equal distribution between the right and left limbs. Hind limb lacerations involved the long digital extensor tendon (28 limbs), lateral digital extensor tendon (3 limbs), or both tendons (16 limbs). Forelimb lacerations involved the common digital extensor tendon (2 limbs), lateral digital extensor tendon (1 limb), or both tendons (3 limbs). Joint involvement was found in 6 cases. Wound management varied according to wound characteristics, financial constraints of owners, and clinician preference. External coaptation consisted of a 3-layered cotton bandage in 33 limbs, splint and cotton bandage in 12 limbs, fiberglass or plaster-of-Paris cast in 5 limbs, and no form of coaptation in 3 limbs.

Follow-up information for 40 cases at least 1 year after injury revealed that 29 (73%) horses had returned to athletic soundness, 7 (18%) horses were pasture sound, 3 horses were chronically lame, and 1 horse was euthanatized during treatment because of wound sepsis. Depending on the hind limb tendons involved, return to athletic soundness ranged from 62% (long digital and lateral digital extensor tendons lacerated) to 80% (long digital extensor tendon lacerated) The small number of forelimb lacerations precluded any comparative data. Five of 6 horses with joint involvement returned to athletic soundness. Complications during treatment included wound sepsis/cellulitis, bone sequestra/osteitis of the third metatarsus, and exuberant granulation tissue.

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