Endoscopic evaluation of the navicular bursa: Observations, treatment and outcome in 92 cases with identified pathology

Equine Veterinary Journal
May 2012

Reasons for performing study: Diagnostic navicular bursoscopy has been described in limited cases. Review of greater numbers is needed to define its contribution to case management and prognostic values.

Objectives: To report: 1) clinical, diagnostic and endoscopic findings in a series of cases, 2) surgical techniques and case outcomes and 3) prognostic values. The authors hypothesise: 1) lameness localising to the navicular bursa is commonly associated with dorsal border deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) lesions, 2) endoscopy allows extent of injuries to be assessed and treated, 3) case outcome relates to severity of DDFT injury and 4) the technique is safe and associated with little morbidity.

Materials and methods: All horses that underwent endoscopy of a forelimb navicular bursa for investigation of lameness were identified. Case files were reviewed and those with injuries within the bursa selected for further analysis.

Results: One-hundred-and-fourteen horses were identified. Ninety-two had injuries within the bursa and DDFT injuries were identified in 98% of bursae. Of those examined with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), 56% had combination injuries involving the DDFT and navicular bone. Sixty-one percent of horses returned to work sound, 42% returned to previous performance. Horses with extensive tearing and combination injuries of the DDFT and navicular bone identified with MRI, had worse outcomes.

Conclusions: Lameness localising to the navicular bursa is commonly associated with injuries to the dorsal border of the DDFT. Endoscopy permits identification and characterisation of injuries within the navicular bursa and enables lesion management. Outcome following debridement is related to severity of injury but overall is reasonable.

Potential relevance: Horses with lameness localising to the navicular bursa may have tears of the DDFT. Bursoscopy is able to contribute diagnostic and prognostic information and debridement of lesions improves outcome compared to cases managed conservatively.