Research Journal

Splint Bone Fractures Examined

A review of veterinary medical records was used to review case management recommendations for splint bone fractures. One hundred cases from about a 10-year period were reviewed.

Most (58%) horses were warmbloods with Thoroughbreds (12%), Arabians (8%) and ponies (11%) also represented. Dressage and show-jumping were most common (24%) followed by pleasure use (18%).

Over half the fractures (55%) were attributed to external trauma (kick or self-inflicted injuries), but the exact cause of injury was often difficult to determine. Front and hind limbs were evenly represented with most horses showing lameness at the walk (23%) or trot (53%).

Pain on palpation was common (77%) and swelling was present for 90% of the cases. About 40% of the fractures included fragmentation, and a similar proportion were associated with open wounds. Sixteen percent of the horses had associated suspensory ligament desmitis, and these commonly had fractures of the lower third of the splint bone.

Most of the horses (63%) received surgery with 35% being treated conservatively. Fractures attributed to external trauma had a better prognosis compared with those where internal trauma or an unknown etiology were involved. Horses with concurrent suspensory ligament injury tended to have a worse outcome. Fractures associated with an open wound were almost four times as likely to have a poor outcome. Horses treated conservatively tended to have a longer convalescence time, however, this approach may be warranted for open fractures of the lower third of the bone.

–Jackson et al. EVE 2007;19:329-335.


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Albert Kane

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

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