Concurrent or sequential tibial subchondral cystic lesions in 4 horses with medial femoral condyle subchondral cystic lesions

Bonilla AG, Bertone AL, Brokken MT, Santschi EM. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2016 Dec 1; 249 (11): 1313-1318.

CASE DESCRIPTION: 4 horses were examined because of signs of chronic hind limb lameness.

CLINICAL FINDINGS: 3 horses had a history of lameness for > 6 months; specific duration was unknown for 1 horse. On initial evaluation, grade 3 to 4 (on a scale from 1 to 5) hind limb lameness was present in all 4 horses. Radiography of the stifle joint of the affected limb revealed medial femoral condyle subchondral lucencies or subchondral cystic lesions (SCLs) in all 4 horses, medial femorotibial osteoarthritis in 3 horses, and medial tibial condyle SCLs in 3 horses.

TREATMENT AND OUTCOME: 2 horses were treated medically (stall rest and oral NSAID administration), and 2 horses were treated surgically by means of medial femoral transcondylar lag screw placement through the medial femoral condyle SCLs. The 2 horses treated medically did not improve and were euthanized. Necropsy confirmed the presence of medial femoral condyle and medial tibial condyle SCLs. Surgical treatment did not resolve the lameness in 1 horse with SCLs in the medial tibial condyle and medial femoral condyle, and euthanasia was performed 150 days after surgery. In the second horse, a medial tibial condyle SCL was evident on radiographs obtained 3 months after surgery; however, this was not addressed surgically, and signs of lameness resolved 11 months after surgery.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Results of this small case series suggested that SCLs in the medial tibial condyle can occur in association with SCLs of the medial femoral condyle, with a poor prognosis for return to athletic function in affected horses. Further investigation is indicated.