Reasons for performing the study: Removal of large chip fractures of the carpal bones and the osteochondral deficits that result, have been associated with a worse prognosis than removal of small fragments in similar locations.
Hypothesis: Reducing the articular defects by repair of large osteochondral fragments may have advantages over removal.
Methods: Horses with osteochondral chip fractures that were of sufficient size and infrastructure to be repaired with small (2.7 mm diameter) AO/ASIF cortex screws were identified and repair effected by arthroscopically guided internal fixation.
Results: Thirty-three horses underwent surgery to repair 35 fractures of the dorsodistal radial carpal bone (n = 25), the dorsal margin of the radial facet of the third carpal bone (n = 9) and the intermediate facet of the distal radius (n = 1). There were no surgical complications and fractures healed satisfactorily in 26 of 28 horses and 23 horses returned to racing performance.
Conclusion: Arthroscopically guided repair of carpal chip fractures with small diameter cortex screws is technically feasible and experiences with 33 cases suggest that this may have advantages over fragment removal in managing such cases.
Potential relevance: Surgeons treating horses with large chip fractures of the carpal bones should consider arthroscopically guided internal fixation as an alternative to removal.