Minimally invasive repair of a calcaneus fracture in a Standardbred foal

Alvaro G. Bonilla, DVM; Katie J. Smith, BVetMed, MSc, DACVS
November 1, 2012
Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Case Description—A 4-month-old Standardbred colt was examined because of a fractured right calcaneus of 8 days' duration with increased distraction of the fracture fragment evident on sequential radiographs. Clinical Findings—The foal was severely lame with diffuse periarticular tarsal swelling. Radiographically, a complete, displaced long oblique fracture of the right calcaneal body was evident. Because the fracture gap was increasing with time and lameness remained severe, despite medical management, surgical repair was recommended. Treatment and Outcome—The foal was anesthetized, and minimally invasive fracture reduction and internal fixation were achieved by use of two 4.5-mm cortical screws placed in lag fashion via stab incisions over the lateral aspect of the calcaneus. External coaptation with a Robert-Jones bandage only was used after surgery. The foal recovered well and the fracture healed appropriately, but at 8 weeks following surgery, tenosynovitis of the tarsal sheath had developed. This was attributed to the tip of the distal screw encroaching on the sheath. The screw was removed under anesthesia and the tarsal sheath drained. The tenosynovitis resolved with rest and bandaging. Fourteen months after surgery, the colt was free of lameness. Clinical Relevance—Findings suggested that a minimally invasive internal fixation technique for treatment of a calcaneus fracture in horses may be successful and may be associated with decreased morbidity, compared with the use of open reduction and plate fixation