Surgical treatment of septic physitis in 17 foals

MS Hall, PJ Pollock and T Russell
December 2012
Australian Veterinary Journal

Objective To document the progression and outcome after surgical curettage of septic physes in foals. Study design Case series of 17 foals, aged <9 weeks, with septic physitis. Methods All foals were treated surgically with curettage of physeal lesions. Combinations of systemic antibiotics, intravenous regional perfusion of antibiotic and antibiotic-impregnated polymethylmethacrylate beads were used as adjunct medical treatments. Tissue removed from the physis of three foals during surgery was sent for pathological analysis. Results At follow-up, 15 of the 17 foals were alive. In the two foals with septic physitis of the distal tibia, the condition was bilateral. Eight foals had concurrent septic arthritis of the joint adjacent to the growth plate, but this did not affect outcome. Referring veterinarians of the foals were contacted at least 9 months post-surgery and all reported excellent functional, and good to excellent cosmetic, outcomes. Pathological examination of the septic physeal tissue showed that normal growth plate had been replaced by inflammatory tissue. Conclusion and clinical relevance Septic physitis in foals may be treated using surgical curettage in selected cases. Removal of septic material might be expected to expedite resolution of infection, especially important in immunologically challenged neonates, where septic tissue may act as a reservoir for seeding of infection to other sites.