Transection of the lateral and long digital extensor tendons in racehorses

CRB Elliott, JR Vasey, TM Russell
Australian Veterinary Journal
January/February 2012

Objective To report on the outcome of wounds to the hindlimb of racehorses, and horses with the intended use of racing, where both the long digital extensor (LoDE) and lateral digital extensor (LaDE) tendons had been completely transected. Design Retrospective case series. Methods Records of all horses admitted with hindlimb lacerations between 2002 and 2009 were examined for cases where both the LoDE and LaDE tendons in the hindlimb had been severed, and specifically in horses intended to be used for racing. Outcome was assessed via retrieval of race records and via telephone questioning of the owners. Results In total, 589 records were retrieved and 34 horses met the inclusion criteria: 26 horses (76%) had proximal wounds that severed both the LoDE and LaDE tendons and 8 (24%) had more distal wounds, where the tendons were severed below the point at which they join; 14 horses (41%) were euthanased prior to discharge. Of the 20 horses discharged, 6 (30%) raced and 12 (60%) did not; 2 (10%) of the treated horses, both Thoroughbred colts, were in race training and showing no signs of lameness at the time of the study. Of the 34 horses presented for treatment, 18% went on to race. Conclusions The prognosis for racing after transection of both hindlimb extensor tendons is poor. Clinicians may wish to consider these findings when formulating advice for clients regarding this injury in racehorses