Surgery for Septic Osteitis?

Q. I read "Septic Osteitis--One Laminitis Complication." My horse has this, and I don't think my vet has had much experience in this and feels that surgery would be detrimental. I'd like to talk to someone with more experience, maybe the vet interviewed in the article, for more information.


A. If the bone infection is related to laminitis/founder, the sepsis perpetuates the condition, and without resolving it the horse is in great jeopardy. Venography (imaging blood flow in the foot), and simply good radiography, have been helpful to me in identifying areas to explore within the foot. Most sinkers will lose at least the distal 0.5 cm of P3 (the coffin bone), and I may or may not surgically remove it. It will slough, but is slow to happen, and I am doing some earlier surgery with encouraging results. Many additional factors seem to determine case outcome, and should be discussed prior to surgery.

If the bone infection is due to a wound or other insult, surgery has been very successful. The question doesn't provide enough information to offer much more advice than this. I'd be more than happy to visit with the veterinarian or owner regarding the particulars of the case, if they wish. I have found foot surgery to be a really rewarding and straightforward part of my practice. I do most of these procedures standing with sedation and local anesthesia. Aftercare involves bandaging, then usually casting, then shoes. I have done several potential "euthanasia" cases that have returned to full performance (non-founders), and several founders that have healed following surgery.

About the Author

Bruce Lyle, DVM

Bruce Lyle, DVM, has a diverse equine patient load with an emphasis the past 13 years on disease of the feet and the foot's biomechanical influence on other lameness and performance issues. He is also an author, presenter and inventor. He established the Aubrey Equine Clinic in Aubrey, Texas, in 1994 and can be reached at 940/440-3006.

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