Mobile Equine Veterinary Service

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Dr. Porter @ 352-258-3571
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Friday, September 27, 2013

Hind Limb Proximal Suspensory Ligament Desmitis in a Horse

A 15 year-old mare presented for a 3 week history of rear-limb lameness that was associated with a "drop" of the rear fetlock joint. On presentation there was moderate swelling of the lower limb, just below the hock joint and the mare was lame at the walk. In addition, there was a 90 degree drop of the fetlock/pastern axis as noted in Figure 1.

Figure 1

The primary mechanism involved in "suspending" the fetlock joint and maintaining the proper fetlock/pastern axis is the suspensory ligament (Figure 2). The suspensory ligament originates just below the hock (red arrow) and initially is one structure (body) that travels down the back of the lower limb (yellow arrow). Approximately half way down the canon bone the suspensory ligament splits into a medial (inside) and lateral (outside) branch. The suspensory branches attach to the sesamoid bones which are located just behind and below the fetlock joint. As such, the suspensory ligament helps "suspend" the fetlock joint and a  proper fetlock/pastern axis.

Figure 2
An ultrasound exam was performed to evaluate the entire suspensory ligament. The origin or proximal suspensory ligament is imaged in cross-section in Figures 3-6. The proximal suspensory ligament of the affected limb is grossly enlarged (yellow circle) and the fiber pattern is a mixed pattern with significant edema and evidence of active inflammation! There is a black and grey swirl pattern noted in the proximal suspensory ligament (tissue inside the yellow circle) of the affected limb which is indicative of severe changes.


Figure 3


Figure 4

 When compared to the normal limb, the significant increase in the size of the proximal suspensory ligament is evident. In this case the affected suspensory ligament was 2x the "normal" size. These ultrasound findings confirm the diagnosis of proximal suspensory desmitis of the hind limb. The prognosis for this injury is poor for return to riding and guarded for return to pasture soundness. Once the fetlock has "dropped" the physical changes to the suspensory ligament CANNOT be reversed!! Treatment is aimed at slowing the progress of the condition and attempting to provide pain relief to the horse. In my experience, corrective shoeing is the MOST important aspect of managing this condition.

Figure 5
  
Figure 6
A "fish tail" bar shoe is strongly recommended for this condition. The shoe should be set extra full such that approximately 1.5 to 2 inches of shoe extended BEHIND the heel bulb. Any kind of a wedge is CONTRAINDICATED in this condition! In addition, daily treatment with ice packs over the proximal suspensory ligament followed by topical Surpass cream are indicated to reduce inflammation and provide pain relief. With corrective shoeing, adequate pain relief, and supervised turn-out, these horses may return to pasture soundness however such a condition carries a guarded prognosis.

Figure 7


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pyloris of a Horse of course!!

The endoscopic images in the following figures are of a horse's pyloris. This is the portion of the stomach that creates a valve and allows gastric fluids and contents to enter the small intestines. The very first region of the small intestines is known as the duodenum. In Figure 1, the pyloric sphincter is open and a small amount of feed material is noted around the edges of the sphincter. In Figure 2, the pyloris is nearly completely closed. The movement of material through the pyloris is controlled via rhythmic contractions or peristalsis of the stomach's muscular wall.

Figure 1
Figure 2
In Figure 3-6, there are very important abnormalities noted around the pyloric sphincter. In Figure 3 and 4, there is evidence of active bleeding from ulcerations around the pyloric sphincter! These ulcerations are likely to be a source of significance discomfort in the horse and would contribute to signs of gastric ulcer disease. It is possible and common to examine a horse's stomach and miss these lesions if the horse is not properly fasted prior to the gastroscopy and the pyloric sphincter is not visualized. This can be quite difficult in some equine patients!! The pyloric sphincter essentially controls the rate of gastric emptying hence any inflammation in this area will likely SLOW the rate of gastric emptying and result in an abnormal build-up of gastric fluid/content within the stomach.

Figure 3

Figure 4
 In Figures 5-6, there is a significant amount of hyperemia around the pyloric sphincter which corresponds to active inflammation. The degree of clinical signs may vary significantly from horse to horse however it is highly likely that horses with these types of lesions will have clinical signs consistent with gastric ulceration and WILL require the proper medical management! These type of lesions may be caused by excessive use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents such as banamine and phenylbutazone. Diagnosis is dependent on a COMPLETE gastroscopy and I typically recommend a follow-up gastroscopy after treatment to verify complete resolution of the pyloric sphincter ulcerations!!

Figure 5

Figure 6
















Friday, September 13, 2013

Fractured Patella in a Horse

A teenage gelding presented for sudden non-weight bearing lameness in the right hind limb. There was a history of a "kick" from another horse but the exact location of the kick was not witnessed. On presentation, there was a basketball-size swelling centered on the stifle and the horse was very painful. He was not willing to walk on the limb. The initial radiographs were not conclusive due to the severe swelling and a follow-up exam was performed 10 days later. On presentation, the gelding was walking on the limb but was very resistant to have the limb flexed at the stifle/hock. There was minimal swelling compared to previous exam.
Figure 1 is a lateral radiograph of the patella. The yellow lines corresponds to bone fragments that are noted along the edges of the patella.





Figure 1
In order to better assess the patella, a special "sky line" projection is required and was especially difficult in this horse because he was resistant to having the stifle flexed! However, it proved to be the most important radiographic view. In  Figure 2, the patella is imaged and a distinct line can be noted traveling through the body of the patella. In Figure 3, the "line" is highlighted in red and is consistent with a complete or near-complete fracture of the patella. In Figure 4, a normal patella is imaged for comparison to the fractured patella.

Figure 2


Figure 3




The degree of fracture appears complete or near-complete which significantly worsens the prognosis. There are cases of patella fracture in horses that are described in the literature that have healed after several months of stall rest. However, there is minimal discussion regarding the future of these horses with regards to as equine athletes. The prognosis for this horse to return to work is poor and his outcome is yet to be determined.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Resolved Fibrosarcoma in a horse!

Several months ago I presented a case involving a gelding that presented for lameness and soft tissue swelling along the outside of the right knee (carpus). The gelding was lame at the walk and hesitant to flex the limb at the carpus. Ultrasound exam revealed a well demarcated soft tissue mass (dark tissue inside blue circle) that was centered over the carpus (Figures 1-3). The histopathology report was consistent with a fibrosarcoma.

Figure 1
Because the tumor was located immediately adjacent to the joint capsule of the carpus, surgical removal was considered high risk. As such, the tumor was injected with a chemotherapy agent called Cisplatin via ultrasound guidance. The tumor was injected twice, approximately 30 days apart. There was a moderate reduction in the size of the tumor just 3 weeks after the first injection and the gelding was no longer lame at the walk and was more willing to flex the limb at the carpus.

Figure 2


Figure 3
 The gelding's limb was evaluated 4 weeks after the second Cisplatin treatment. There was no evidence of the fibrosarcoma on the outside of the carpus AND under the skin (Figure 5). The ultrasound exam only noted normal subcutaneous tissue and joint capsule between the ultrasound probe and the carpus. The gelding was sound at the walk, trot, canter and has returned to full work!! The case is a good example of the benefits of intra-lesional injection of tumors that are non-operable with chemotherapy agents. There are several chemotherapy agents available and the procedure can be performed at the barn with ultrasound guidance.

Figure 4