Objective—To determine clinical history, structures involved, treatment, and outcome of lacerations of the heel bulb and proximal phalangeal region (pastern) in horses.
Procedures—Medical records of horses with lacerations of the heel bulb and pastern were reviewed, and follow-up information was obtained.
Results—75 horses were Quarter Horses. Most horses were not treated with antimicrobial drugs prior to referral. Mean ± SD time from injury to referral was 24 ± 45 hours (range, 1 to 168 hours). Lacerations were most frequently caused by contact with wire or metal objects. In 17 horses, lacerations involved synovial structures; the distal interphalangeal joint was most commonly affected. One horse was euthanatized after initial examination. Wound treatment consisted of cleansing, lavage, debridement, lavage of affected synovial structures, suturing of fresh wounds, and application of a foot bandage or cast. Fifty-six horses were treated with systemically administered antimicrobial drugs. Follow-up information was collected for 61 horses. Fifty-one horses returned to their intended use and had no further complications; 10 horses had complications associated with the wound, and of those horses, 5 were euthanatized and 1 horse died from an unrelated cause. Horses with lacerations that involved synovial structures had worse outcomes than horses with lacerations that did not involve synovial structures.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Horses that sustain heel bulb lacerations can successfully return to their intended use. Involvement of the distal interphalangeal joint is associated with poor prognosis. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005;226:418–423)