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Equine Practice
Diagnosis and management of acute stifle injury in adult horses
  1. Richard Reardon

    Richard Reardon graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 2004 and then worked in mixed practice in Warwickshire. After an 18‐month internship in Newbury, he undertook a residency in large animal surgery at Glasgow. His research interests are surgical treatment of cervical vertebral malformation and upper airway disease in racing thoroughbreds.

  2. Christoph Lischer

    Christoph Lischer graduated from the University of Zurich in 1989. He is currently chair of equine surgery at Glasgow and is based in the Weipers Centre for Equine Welfare. He is a diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Surgery and has a special interest in fracture repair in horses.


LAMENESS associated with the stifle is relatively infrequent in horses. However, a number of conditions affecting the stifle region can cause acute lameness and need to be recognised. Stifle injuries are often the result of direct trauma such as kicks from other horses or failure to successfully clear fixed fences at speed, but can also result from abnormal rotational forces acting on the joint. The degree of lameness usually, but not invariably, reflects the severity of the damage. Some degree of soft tissue swelling may develop, although the absence of detectable swelling does not preclude severe damage. When confronted with suspected stifle injuries in the field, careful palpation of the area is an important part of the clinical investigation and requires good knowledge of the anatomy and function of the joint. This article describes the basic anatomy and function of the stifle, reviews the diagnostic techniques that are frequently used to investigate acute stifle injuries and presents some of the more common causes of acute lameness associated with the stifle region.

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