Management and outcome of fractures of the distal phalanx: A retrospective study of 285 horses with a long term outcome in 223 cases

Astrid B.M. Rijkenhuizen, Kim de Graaf, Annelieke Hak, Anton Fürst, Frerik ter Braake, Christian Stanek, Tim R.C. Greet
The Veterinary Journal
May 2012

A multicentre study of 285 cases was performed to enhance the management of distal phalangeal fractures on the basis of clinical evidence. The outcome after treatment was available for 223 of the cases. Horses with a non-articular type I fracture had a better prognosis (91.7%) for return to original or expected level of use than horses with an articular type II or III fracture (69.6% and 74.1%, respectively). The prognosis for types IV and V fractures was fair (57.7% and 57.1%, respectively) and for type VI good (80%). Horses with a hindlimb fracture had a significantly greater chance of a successful outcome. No significant association between age or time to start treatment and success rate was noted. The best treatment option for types I–III fractures was a conservative approach (box rest). Type IV fractures were best treated by arthroscopic removal of the fragment. Immobilisation of the hoof did not seem to influence outcome. Radiological findings and clinical healing were not accurately correlated and the re-commencement of training should be based on clinical rather than radiological findings. Complete osseous union of the fracture was not essential for a successful return to athletic activity

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