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Equine Practice
Managemnent of splint bone fractures in horses
  1. Jessica Kidd

    Jessica Kidd graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in biology in 1990 and qualified as a veterinary surgeon from Purdue University, USA, in 1995. After a spell in mixed practice in Connecticut, she undertook an internship at a referral practice for racehorses in Florida. She returned to the UK in 1998 to undertake a residency in surgery at Bristol and is currently a surgeon at Glasgow. She holds an RCVS certificate in equine surgery (orthopaedics) and is a diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Surgeons.


FRACTURES of the splint bone in horses are commonly seen in practice. Fractures of the distal splint bone are mainly encountered in performance horses and occur at exercise, while fractures of the proximal splint bone are traumatic in origin and usually have an associated wound and infection. When investigating lameness or a wound localised to the region of the cannon bone, splint bone fractures can often be overlooked due to the vestigial nature of the splint bones and their close relationship to the cannon bone, the suspensory ligament and synovial structures at both their proximal and distal extents. A diagnosis of suspensory desmitis should always suggest possible involvement of the splint bones and radiography should be carried out to assess this; any wound of the cannon bone, especially one which occurs medially or laterally, should also be investigated for potential injuries involving the splint bones. If left undiagnosed, splint bone fractures associated with a suspensory desmitis can prolong recovery and also exacerbate the desmitis due to callus formation impinging on the suspensory ligament. Any fractures of the splint bone associated with trauma that are overlooked can lead to persistent infection, failure of wound healing and sequestrum formation even in the face of minimal lameness. This article discusses the management of fractures of the distal and proximal splint bones in horses.

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