Conservative versus surgical treatment of 21 sports horses with osseous trauma in the proximal phalangeal sagittal groove diagnosed by low-field MRI

Vet Surg. 2018 Sep 14. [Epub ahead of print]

OBJECTIVE: To compare the outcome following conservative vs surgical management of sports horses with a diagnosis of subchondral bone trauma of the proximal aspect of the proximal phalanx (PP) by low-field MRI.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective case series.

ANIMALS: Twenty-one mature sports horses with evidence of high water signal within the proximal sagittal groove of the PP according to low-field MRI of the fetlock, with no definitive radiographic evidence of fracture.

METHODS: Medical records (2010-2017) of horses admitted to 2 referral hospitals were reviewed. Historical, clinical, radiographic, and MRI findings and treatment choice were recorded. Conservative management consisted of confinement to a stall followed by gradual reintroduction to exercise. Surgical management consisted of cortical screw fixation across the proximal aspect of the PP. Long-term outcome was determined by telephone questionnaire or by clinical records review. Fisher's exact test was used to compare outcome between the 2 treatment groups.

RESULTS: Follow-up was available in 17 of 21 horses in the study, including 8 horses treated conservatively and 9 treated surgically. No difference in outcome was detected in this study; 4 of 8 horses were sound after conservative management, and 5 of 9 horses were sound after surgery (Pā€‰>ā€‰.99).

CONCLUSION: Approximately half of the horses that had a diagnosis of osseous trauma within the proximal aspect of PP returned to athletic activity, regardless of conservative or surgical management.

CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: The prognosis for return to athletic functions in horses with osseous trauma within the proximal aspect of the PP is guarded.

Small animal: 
Large animal: