Researchers Study Surgical Fixation of P3 to the Hoof Wall for Laminitis

A collaborative effort between veterinarians in the United States and Australia explored the use of a T-shaped compression plate normally used for fracture repair to rigidly attach the coffin bone (P3) to the hoof wall, with the idea of using this approach to treat severe acute laminitis.

The plates were attached to the front hoof of six cadaver limbs with locking screws placed through the hoof wall and both cortices of P3, then the limbs were tested in a mechanical loading press. Following this, the plates were surgically attached in a similar manner to the feet of 12 healthy Standardbred horses. The animals were monitored for signs of lameness, and the tissues were examined microscopically to assess the effects on the laminar junction.

In the cadaver limbs, the compression plates prevented the signs of sinking seen in untreated hooves that served as controls. In the live horses, the plates produced complications with 10 of the 12 treated horses showing no signs of lameness at a trot after 1 week. Microscopically, the plates produced tissue damage similar to that seen with laminitis. Although it seems a bit extreme to this reader, the authors concluded plate fixation of P3 to the hoof capsule has the potential to be a treatment for clinical laminitis after more refinement of the technique.

— Lean NE et al. EVJ 2022:13877

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Albert Kane

Albert J. Kane, DVM, MPVM, Ph.D.

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