Innovation in equine medicine is the hallmark of the AAEP Convention's State of the Art Lecture, and this year will be no different. David M. Nunamaker, VMD, Chairman and Jacques Jenny Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery of the New Bolton Center's Department of Clinical Studies, will present New Bolton Center research on bucked shins and fracture treatment in horses on Friday, Dec. 6.

Bucked Shins--These small stress fractures on the front of the cannon bone often occur in horses beginning heavy training. The bone remodels in response to the stress of training, and early on, this new bone is prone to microfracture.

Some sources have estimated the incidence of bucked shins among Thoroughbred racehorses to be as high as 70%, and the condition isn't uncommon in racing Quarter Horses and Standardbreds. Since lameness from bucked shins results in lost training time and missed races, anything that decreases the incidence of the problem would improve a racehorse's productivity.

Nunamaker's research team evaluated 240 Thoroughbred racehorses in different training programs with different frequencies of galloping work and breezing (high-speed conditioning). One of the training programs in the study resulted in a notable decrease in the incidence of bucked shins, from the usual 40-70% to less than 10%. Nunamaker will discuss the specifics of this training regimen at the convention.

Fracture Treatment--While fractures don't necessarily mean a death sentence today, many still view affected horses as handicapped to some degree. They think these horses won't heal well enough to regain their previous level of competition. This isn't always the case.

In Part 2 of the State of the Art Lecture, Nunamaker will discuss fracture treatment in the horse and how the Association for the Study of Internal Fixation (a Swiss group) has affected the treatment of fractures in both humans and horses. New Bolton Center research has improved fracture treatment in general using these products with plate luting, a method that allows early full weightbearing in the horse without implant failure. Nunamaker will explain how these devices can be used, under what circumstances, and what results can be expected.

While most external fixators simply aren't good ideas for horses because of the equine gift for self-injury, Nunamaker and the New Bolton Center group have engineered and patented an effective external fixator for horses. Currently in production and having been available for almost a year, this device has the potential to allow veterinarians to treat serious fractures that previously were not treatable with internal stabilization techniques. Nunamaker will present this fixator and case examples at the convention.

About the Author

Christy M. West

Christy West has a BS in Equine Science from the University of Kentucky, and an MS in Agricultural Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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