Short- and long-term results following standing fracture repair in 34 horses

R. J. Payne and P. C. Compston
November 2012
Equine Veterinary Journal


Reasons for performing study: Standing fracture repair in the horse is a recently described surgical procedure and currently there are few follow-up data. This case series contains 2 novel aspects in the standing horse: repair of incomplete sagittal fractures of the proximal phalanx and medial condylar repair from a lateral aspect.

Objectives: To describe outcome in a case series of horses that had lower limb fractures repaired under standing sedation at Rossdales Equine Hospital.

Method: Case records for all horses that had a fracture surgically repaired, by one surgeon at Rossdales Equine Hospital, under standing sedation and local anaesthesia up until June 2011, were retrieved. Hospital records, owner/trainer telephone questionnaire and the Racing Post website were used to evaluate follow-up.

Results: Thirty-four horses satisfied the inclusion criteria. Fracture sites included the proximal phalanx (incomplete sagittal fracture, n = 14); the third metacarpal bone (lateral condyle, n = 12, and medial condyle, n = 7); and the third metatarsal bone (lateral condyle, n = 1). One horse required euthanasia due to caecal rupture 10 days post operatively. Twenty horses (66.7% of those with available follow-up) have returned to racing. Where available, mean time from operation to return to racing was 226 days (range 143–433 days).

Conclusions: Standing fracture repair produced similar results to fracture repair under general anaesthesia in terms of both the number of horses that returned to racing and the time between surgery and race.

Potential relevance: Repair of lower limb fracture in the horse under standing sedation is a procedure that has the potential for tangible benefits, including avoidance of the inherent risks of general anaesthesia. The preliminary findings in this series of horses are encouraging and informative when discussing options available prior to fracture repair.