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Friday, July 5, 2013

Sub-solar Abscess in a Horse!!

Figure 1

The radiograph in Figure 1 is of a horse's hind foot. This gelding has been suffering from chronic laminitis/founder for over 1 year. When I first examined this horse, there was nearly zero sole depth between the coffin bone and the bottom of the foot. In addition, the coffin bone was reduced in size due to gradual degradation (pedal osteitis) of the coffin bone. The pedal osteitis developed due to the chronic pedal bone rotation that is evident in Figure 2 (non-parallel red lines). It was decided that a deep digital flexor tenotomy combined with appropriate shoeing may help stabilize the foot and promote sole growth. Over 4-6 months after the surgery, the gelding's sole depth increased significantly, indicating normal hoof growth and he was more comfortable on this limb.

Figure 2

Recently, the gelding's lameness worsened and he was non-weight bearing when examined. A lateral radiograph was performed (Figure 1-3). A large, radiolucent area (red circle) was noted in the toe region of the foot with a track that appeared to be traveling toward the coronary band (Figure 3). These findings are consistent with a large, sub-solar abscess! 

Figure 3
The shoe was removed and a large "hole" was noted at the apex of the frog that extended into a cavity with the circumference of a golf ball! The abscess appeared to be draining however it involved a significant amount of space between the bottom of the sole and the coffin bone. After removing the shoe, the foot was soaked in a warm epsom salt solution and then was "packed" with a strong disinfectant. The gelding's lameness improved within 24 hrs however he remains lame at the walk. His return to soundness will take some time and most likely require a specialized shoe known as a hospital plate. Recurrent foot abscess formation is a common problem among chronically foundered horses and highlights the importance of regular trimming/shoeing plus radiographic examination!

Figure 4






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