Arthroscopic removal of large extensor process fragments in 18 Friesian horses: long-term clinical outcome and radiological follow-up of the distal interphalangeal joint

Compagnie E, Ter Braake F, de Heer N, Back W.Vet Surg. 2016 May; 45 (4): 536-41.

OBJECTIVE: Report long-term clinical and radiological follow-up in horses after removal of large extensor process fragments occupying >25% of the joint surface of the distal interphalangeal joint (DIJ).

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective case series.

ANIMALS: Friesian horses (n=18) that underwent arthroscopic removal of a large extensor process fragment.

METHODS: Arthroscopic examination of the DIJ was performed in dorsal recumbency with the affected foot in extension using routine portals. Visualization of the fragment was improved using motorized synovial resectors. A dissection plane between the common digital extensor tendon and the extensor process fragment was created using sharp lever instruments, in some cases aided by motorized burrs and radiofrequency ligament dissection. The fragment was removed piecemeal using Ferris-Smith rongeurs. Medical records, preoperative and postoperative radiographs, and owner surveys were reviewed for case details and outcome.

RESULTS: The technique described allowed removal of the large fragment in all 18 horses. Of the 17 horses where long-term clinical follow-up was available, 14 were used as intended and 3 kept some degree of lameness. The angle between the remodeled extensor process and the dorsal surface of the distal phalanx was increased and subchondral bone remodeling at the fragment bed was noted on postoperative lateromedial radiographs.

CONCLUSION: Arthroscopic removal is a good treatment option for horses with large extensor process fragmentation with a good long-term outcome. Remodeling of the remaining extensor process and the subchondral new bone formation in the fragment bed can occur with functional recovery.