Reasons for performing study: Surgical correction of carpal angular limb deformities by growth retardation is commonly undertaken with a screws and tension band wire loop technique (S&W) or a single transphyseal screw (STS). This study compares complications after S&W and STS bridging in the distal radius of Thoroughbred yearlings.
Objective: To compare the prevalence of complications serious enough to require follow-up radiographs following either S&W or STS surgery for growth manipulation in the distal radius of Thoroughbred yearlings.
Methods: Medical records and radiographs from Thoroughbred yearlings (age range 261–457 days) treated for carpal angular limb deformities at a single hospital over 2 years were reviewed. Each of the techniques was used exclusively during a single year. The complication threshold criterion for inclusion was the need for nonroutine radiographs of the operated site anytime after implant insertion or removal.
Results: Of 568 horses, 253 received S&W and 315 received STS. Horses were of similar age at the time of surgery for STS and S&W. Single transphyseal screws were left in place for a significantly shorter amount of time (16 days). Sex, the limb(s) treated and medial vs. lateral placement were not significantly different between techniques. Complications included physitis post implant removal, metaphyseal collapse post implant removal, infection, overcorrection and seroma formation severe enough to require radiography. Physitis and metaphyseal collapse occurred significantly more frequently with STS compared with S&W. Infection, overcorrection and seromas were not significantly different between techniques.
Conclusion: The STS and S&W techniques are both viable treatment options for correction of carpal angular limb deformities. However, horses treated with the STS technique have a significantly increased risk of developing physitis or metaphyseal collapse.
Potential relevance: Horses treated with STS bridging have a significantly increased risk of developing the post correction complications of moderate to severe physitis and metaphyseal collapse compared with horses treated with S&W bridging.