Equine Articular Synovial Cysts: 16 Cases

Mathieu Lacourt, Melinda MacDonald, Yves Rossier and Sheila Laverty
Veterinary Surgery
January 2013

Objective To report the clinical findings, diagnosis, treatment and outcome of equine patients with articular synovial cysts. Study Design Retrospective case series. Animals Horses (n = 16) with articular synovial cysts. Methods Horses diagnosed with articular synovial cysts (1988–2009) at 2 veterinary teaching hospitals were studied. Signalment, history, clinical signs, diagnostic methods and treatment were retrieved and telephone follow-up was obtained. Results Sixteen horses with articular synovial cysts were identified. Lameness was the reason for referral in most (n = 9) horses. Diagnosis was based on a combination of palpation and imaging studies, including radiography, ultrasonography and/or arthrography. Excision of the cyst was performed in 8 horses. Outcome was available for 4 surgically and 2 conservatively treated horses. Lameness resolved in 3 horses treated surgically and the 4th died for unrelated reasons. The 2 conservatively treated horses performed satisfactorily for the rest of their career. Conclusions Equine articular synovial cysts are rare and can be associated with lameness. The cysts had a synovial lining in all horses where it was assessed. Surgical excision may be successful in resolving the lameness and allowing selected horses to return to work.