New Method of Fixing Fractures in Small Equids

A special splint and cast can produce good fracture healing and pasture soundness in ponies, donkeys, and small horses.

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The technology surrounding equine fracture repair has evolved tremendously over the past decade. Surgeons can now repair many fractures previously deemed unfixable, often with a relatively good outcome for both survival and athletic function.

Nevertheless, said Denis Verwilghen, DVM, MSc, PhD, DES, Dipl. ECVS, associate professor of Large Animal Surgery at Denmark’s University of Copenhagen, long bone fractures remain challenging to treat, and the chances of returning to full athletic activity can be limited.

“These types of surgery further demand for specialized infrastructure, dedicated and experienced personnel, and the use of expensive equipment involving plates and screws generally rendering the cost of treatment being high,” he explained. “Many horse owners would, therefore, generally opt out of fracture treatment for their beloved horse due to financial reasons.”

But there’s some good news for owners of smaller equids, such as donkeys, ponies, and Miniature and other small horses. Verwilghen and colleagues have determined that using a ring-shaped splint and a cast in some lighter-weight animals can result in good healing and pasture soundness or, rarely, a return to athletic activity, at about a third of the cost

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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