We offer a wide range of orthopaedic surgical procedures performed by qualified Board Certified surgeons with wide experience in performing arthroscopy, tenoscopy, fracture repair and correction of limb deformities in foals.
Arthroscopy and tenoscopy are widely used for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes and is now a preferred treatment for several joint conditions. Fracture repair in horses remains challenging, but over the last decade advances have been made to improve the success rate and prognosis for these patients.
We hope you find the questions below useful. There is also a list of more general questions in our General Info for Owners pages.
This depends largely on the amount of time needed to identify the source of pain and diagnose the cause of lameness. The time is variable, but usually 2-3 days is needed to perform all the diagnostics required. Occasionally this extends to 5-7 days.
Blocking a horse means that we will locally anesthetise a certain area of the leg. If the pain that causes the lameness is within this area, your horse’s lameness will improve.
Once an area is identified as the problem region, more specific blocks within this area might be required to identify which specific structure is causing the pain.
Once we have identified the location of the pain, we can perform further diagnostics such as radiographs and ultrasound to image the region and find the cause of the pain.
Scintigraphy is a diagnostic modality that we use in specific cases to find the source of the lameness. A radio-active isotope is injected in your horse’s circulation, which will circulate and attach to the bones.
Images of the bones of your horse will then be obtained with a special camera. If any inflammation is present, these areas will have an increased uptake of the isotope on the images also known as ‘hot-spot’.
Depending on the intensity and the location, this does not always mean that these hot-spots are the cause of lameness, but they are areas of interest that can be examined further. Scintigraphy can be used to identify areas of potential pain, which is useful if your horse is difficult to block or all possible structures have been blocked and the area of pain is not identified.
Radio-active material and animals injected with radio-active material have to be handled with care. Specific regulations are in place and our hospital is fully licensed to handle radio-active material.
Your horse will take approximately 48 hours to eliminate the radio-active material from its body and will be in isolated facilities in our hospital during this time period. There are no known harmful effects for your horse or risks for you handling your horse after this procedure.
All these different diagnostic techniques are used so we can localise and identify the source of pain causing your horse’s lameness.
An accurate diagnosis is necessary to provide an accurate treatment plan and prognosis for your horse.
Yes, sometimes it is useful to see a horse when ridden since it will provide us with additional information. In addition we can see if the tack is well fitted to the horse.
Remedial farriery or orthopaedic corrective shoeing is widely used and the goal of corrective shoeing is to prevent future injury/lameness or to treat existing injuries and improve comfort. Each horse and each foot should be evaluated individually and a team approach of a combination of a veterinary specialist and a remedial farrier is recommended.
At the Equine Centre our specialists work closely with Paul Horner FdSc AWCF, who has a wide experience with orthopaedic shoeing. In addition we have force plate technology available, which allows us to evaluate the effect of orthopaedic shoes on the forces within the foot.
Back problems in horses are quite common and can sometimes be challenging to diagnose. The main difficulty with investigating back pain is the relative inaccessibility of the back and the time required to perform a thorough investigations are time consuming.
It can be challenging to differentiate between primary back pain (true back pathology), secondary back pain (caused by lameness, poor saddle fit and/or rider) and apparent back pain (behavioural problems, poor fitness). Our specialists have extensive experience with these patients and can provide a thorough examination both in hand and ridden.
Additionally we have diagnostics available that are able to access this area and provide additional information (radiographs, scintigraphy, specific local anaesthesia) enabling us to diagnose and treat horses with these challenging conditions.
Arthroscopy is also known as ‘key-hole’ surgery. This procedure entails placing a video camera (arthroscope) in the joint through small skin incisions which allows thorough evaluation of the joint surface and gives the ability to recognize and treat any pathology.
It is a minimally invasive technique since only small skin incisions are made, therefore risk for complications is smaller and recovery time is faster. It can be used as a diagnostic tool when the joint has been identified as the main cause of the lameness, but no abnormalities were found on radiographs or ultrasound.
It is possible that pathology is only visible during arthroscopy, which will give more information for accurate treatment and prognosis. Arthroscopy is also used for therapeutic purposes; if any abnormality has been identified radiographically or ultrasonographically that requires treatment, arthroscopy is usually the treatment of choice.
This can vary depending on which joint was treated and what was found at the time of surgery. In general the first two weeks your horse should be box rested and the limb should remain bandaged with bandage changes every 2-3 days.
Sutures can be removed after 10-12 days after which one more bandage can be placed that can be removed after 2-3 days. After the bandage is removed, most horses can gradually start some hand walking exercise. The duration of rehabilitation is variable, but if only mild disease was found and treated, your horse can usually go back to work 2 months after surgery.
Fractures in horses can be catastrophic and require euthanasia due to welfare reasons, but over the last decade significant advances have been made in equine fracture repair.
Whether or not a fracture is amenable for repair depends on a multitude of factors, but in the last decade stronger and better fixations have become available and our surgeons are trained and experienced equine fracture repair.
So yes, it is possible that you have to put your horse to sleep if he/she sustains a catastrophic fracture, but consultation with our specialists is recommended since surgical treatment could very well be an option.
Treatment is variable depending on the severity and the location of the deformity. Veterinary advice is recommended, even with very young foals, since the window of opportunity for appropriate treatment can be very small.
In most foals conservative treatment with limited exercise with or without corrective trimming will be adequate, but if no success is reached with this a surgical procedure (placing a screw over a growth plate to attenuate growth) in a foal as young as 6-8 weeks of age can be required to correct the deformity.