Reasons for performing study: To determine the incidence of support limb laminitis among horses treated with half limb, full limb or transfixation pin casts and determine potential risk factors.
Methods: Medical records of 113 horses treated with half limb, full limb or transfixation pin casts at an equine referral hospital from 2000 to 2009 were reviewed. Associations between potential risk factors and development of support limb laminitis were evaluated by bivariable and multivariable logistic regression analyses.
Results: Of the 113 horses that received casts, 14 (12%) developed confirmed support limb laminitis. The bodyweight of the horse and duration of casting in weeks were significantly associated with support limb laminitis. Horses requiring full limb casts or transfixation pin casts were more likely to develop this complication than horses requiring half limb casts. There were no significant associations between developing support limb laminitis and weightbearing capacity on presentation to the hospital, the limb affected (fore- or hind), whether there was a fracture present or breed of horse.
Conclusions: Support limb laminitis is a relatively common complication among horses treated with half limb, full limb and transfixation pin casts. Greater durations of casting and higher bodyweights increase the likelihood of developing this complication.
Potential relevance: Support limb laminitis may occur secondary to any painful unilateral lameness and is not necessarily more likely to develop in horses with severe orthopaedic conditions such as fractures. However, heavier horses, those requiring casts for longer periods of time and those that require a full limb or transfixation pin cast as opposed to a half limb cast should be considered to have an increased risk for developing support limb laminitis post operatively.