Carpal hyperextension in a Percheron mare caused by a palmar carpal ligament tear

M. Barba, M. McMaster, V. Albanese, R. Cole, F. Caldwell and J. Schumacher
Equine Veterinary Education
July 2014

A Percheron mare was presented for acute, severe lameness and marked swelling of the right forelimb after being cast. The mare was initially diagnosed with cellulitis of the forelimb but as her condition improved and the affected limb was able to bear more weight it became apparent that the limb was hyperextended at the level of the carpus. Widening of the palmar aspect of the middle carpal joint was observed radiographically. During ultrasonographic examination, excessive fluid in the carpal sheath and perithecal swelling were noted and tearing of the palmar carpal ligament was suspected. A dynamic brace was fabricated to prevent hyperextension of the carpus. After discontinuation of systemic antibiotics, the mare became febrile and forelimb lameness worsened. Cytology of fluid from the middle carpal joint confirmed joint sepsis and the mare was anaesthetised for arthroscopic examination. A tear in the palmar carpal ligament, characterised by focal fibre disruption and fibrillation, was identified during arthroscopic and tenoscopic examination. Communication between the carpal flexor tendon sheath and middle carpal joint was identified during these procedures. Both the middle carpal joint and carpal flexor tendon sheath were lavaged with physiological saline solution. Post operatively, swelling and lameness slowly resolved. Four months after discharge, the mare was sufficiently sound to be maintained at pasture. Viewed from its lateral aspect, the limb no longer appeared to be hyperextended from the carpus.

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