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Dr. Porter @ 352-258-3571
portermi.dvm@gmail.com

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Friday, June 28, 2013

Habronemiasis (Summer Sore) in a Horse!


The images in Figure 1-3 are from a horse that presented for a large, painful swelling along the mare's ventral abdomen. The mare had been treated by the referring veterinarian with anti-inflammatory medication and oral antibiotics with minimal improvement. A core biopsy revealed chronic inflammation with no specific cause identified and an ultrasound exam merely revealed diffuse edema. Close examination of the swelling (Figures 2-3) noted yellow granules which were consistent with sulfur granules. This finding is consistent with 2 diseases in horses which are cutaneous pythiosis and cutaneous habronemiasis. Identifying which pathogen is causing the lesions can be tricky and involves skin biopsies with special staining for pythiosis.


Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, "cutaneous habronemiasis or summer sores are a result of fly larvae which enter existing wounds or moist skin and migrate into the tissue causing irritation and a chronic granulomatous reaction".  As such, management of this condition involves fly control, medication for encysted larvae, AND medication for inflammatory reaction. Fly control is an ongoing issue at most farms and becomes increasingly important as the warm, summer months approach. The most common method for treating for the encysted larvae is a simple dose of oral ivermectin. Unfortunately, this is were most horse owners stop with treating summer sores. There are a multitude of topical therapies which include varying amounts of ivermectin and antibiotics. Unfortunately, these topical therapies are NOT appropriate for treating the chronic inflammatory reaction. As a result, many summer sores continue to increase in size and result in horrible wounds as imaged in Figures 4 and 5. These represent the MOST common location for summer sores in horses that being the lower limbs.

Figure 5

Figure 4
The large swollen plaque across the ventral abdomen is a uncommon location for a summer sore as is the upper lip noted in Figure 5. However, these lesions can develop on any part of the horse's body that is accessible by a fly!! It is critical that the horse owner understands that the chronic, inflammatory reaction is a result of a hypersensitivity or allergic reaction to the encysted larvae, before and AFTER it has been effectively killed with systemic ivermectin. As such, the horse must be treated for the hypersensitivity with products that contain immune suppressive doses of corticosteroids. In small, focal cases, the lesions are effectively treated with topical treatment however large summer sores will need systemic corticosteroid administration!! In my experience, this is the ONLY way to effectively rid the horse of this condition. Unfortunately, once a horse develops summer sores, they will be predisposed the following fly season to re-develop sores in the same regions. I have developed a highly effective topical cream with the help of a pharmacy and would be happy to dispense this product to owners of horses that are dealing with this highly annoying condition!!

Figure 6

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Paranasal Sinus Cyst in a Horse

Figure 1A
Figure 1B













The radiographs in Figure 1-3 correspond to a horse that presented for chronic nasal discharge. The discharge was bilateral and there was a reduction in the air flow through the nasal passages. Due to the reduced airflow, it was decided to first radiograph the gelding's skull and then potentially scope the upper airway.


Figure 2A
Figure 2B










Radiographic exam revealed a soft tissue mass that was located in the maxillary sinus. In Figures 1-2 A and B the soft tissue mass appears as a round, white structure that is highlighted by the red dotted circles. In Figure 3 there appears to be a soft tissue mass in both the left and right maxillary sinus (red dotted circles). The mass appears larger on the left side of the skull.
The gelding was NOT sedated for endoscopic exam in order to reduce the likelihood of respiratory distress.

Figure 3
 In Figure 4, an endoscopic image reveals a smooth, soft tissue tumor/mass that is obstructing the nasal passage. Moderate amounts of purulent debris can be seen accumulating around the soft tissue mass. Based on the endoscopic and radiographic findings, the gelding was referred for surgical exploration. At surgery, a large paranasal cyst was exposed in the left maxillary sinus and a small cyst was identified in the right maxillary sinus. Both cysts were removed and the gelding recovered uneventfully. It is likely that the cysts began to develop early in life for this gelding and did not become clinically relevant until they grew into the nasal passages. Once they are removed via surgical intervention the prognosis is very good !!


Figure 4



Friday, June 14, 2013

Shoulder swelling in a Horse

The mare in Figure 1 presented for a complaint of sudden onset severe swelling at the point of the right shoulder and near non-weight bearing lameness of the same limb. The mare is normally kept with other horses and there is no history of a "equine dispute" or evidence of external trauma. On presentation, the swelling consists of significant edema and the mare is considerably "tender" to pressure and palpation of the swelling. Manipulation of the limb was limited due to the significant pain response that resulted. Radiographic exam of the horse's shoulder is a viable option however due to the pain on manipulation and significant soft tissue swelling, an ultrasound exam was more highly indicated.

Figure 1
The images in Figure 2 and 3 correspond to the soft tissue swelling noted in Figure 1. A large, fluid filled pocket was noted deep to the skin surface. The fluid had a mixed pattern of echogenicity suggesting that the fluid consisted of cellular debris mixed with blood/serum. These findings are most consistent with a large subcutaneous abscess. The two most likely causes for abscess formation in this area would be trauma induced or abscess formation from a bacteria called corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis. This condition is also known as "Pigeon's fever". Pigeon's fever is a serious condition due to the highly infectious nature of the bacteria AND the fact that once the bacteria is present on the premises, it is very difficult to remove from the environment. Correct diagnosis depends on collecting a sample of fluid from the abscess and submitting for laboratory evaluation. Treatment of either condition requires establishing drainage of the abscess and daily  lavage for 10-14 days after drainage. Microbiological identification in this case is pending and the horse is in quarantine on the farm! The abscess was opened and drainage established.

Figure 2


Figure 3
Interestingly, within 7 days of examining the mare above, a gelding presented for similar symptoms. He was found non-weight bearing lame in the pasture with severe swelling of the shoulder region. The referring veterinarian provided digital radiographs which did not identify the cause of the lameness/swelling. On ultrasound exam, a bright, bone-like structure (red dotted line) was noted extending into a fluid filled mass that appeared to be a hematoma (Figure 4 and 5). The bone-like structure was the humerus bone (red dotted line) and it was fractured plus displaced. This gelding was humanely  immediately euthanized!

Figure 4

Figure 5
Although these cases are quite different in outcome, they demonstrate the benefit of soft tissue ultrasound with regards to assessing "swellings". As demonstrated it is possible to evaluate soft tissue changes as well as bony changes.







Friday, June 7, 2013

Superficial digital Flexor Tendonitis (Bowed tendon) in a Horse!

A  twenty year-old mare presented for sudden, severe swelling of the left front lower limb. The mare was nearly non-weight bearing lame and had been seen galloping around her paddock moments before. Prior to my exam, the mare was stalled for 7 days and treated with ice and systemic non-steroidal mediation (phenylbutazone). On presentation there was a noticeable "profile" to the lower portion of the forelimb (Red line:Figure 1). The mare was moderately positive to pressure over this swelling and was lame at the walk. On palpation, there was no distinction between the superficial digital flexor tendon and the deep digital flexor tendon.
Figure 1
Ultrasound examination of the lower limb, beginning just below the knee (carpus) revealed inflammation of the superficial digital flexor tendon (SDF). The inflammation was moderate just below the knee (Figure 2) however became severe further down the leg (Figure 5). In Figures 2 and 3, moderate to severe edema (dark tissue) is noted with pockets of disrupted fiber pattern. The image in Figure 4 is of the opposite limb for comparison to /the abnormal limb. In Figure 5, the SDF tendon (Red arrows) is severely enlarged and there is no apparent pattern with regards to the fiber pattern. These findings are consistent with a near rupture of the SDF tendon.

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4

Figure 5
Although the outward and inward findings are severe, the prognosis for pasture soundness is good. It will take 6-12 months for this type of injury to heal with a fibrotic scar but the mare is likely to return to soundness as a pasture horse. Unfortunately, her prognosis as a riding horse is poor and it is not recommended to return this mare to any type of forced work due to her age and degree of injury. Tendonitis of the superficial flexor tendon can occur in various regions of the lower limb. The closer to the knee/carpus (High bow), the worst the prognosis, even for pasture soundness. This is due to the constant irritation of the tendon when the horse advances the limb. In addition, horses that suffer a "bowed" SDF tendon are at increased risk for another injury to the same tendon and it commonly occurs above or below the original injury. My recommendation for rehabilitative care includes the following:

1: Limited activity: preferred stall rest with hand walking for 2 months followed by small paddock turn-out
2: Daily ice therapy for 2-3 weeks
3: Topical non-steroidal cream: Surpass
4: Consider Extra-corporeal shockwave treatment and PRP injection.