Experienced owners know it well, and new owners learn it quick: Horses are accident-prone. Specifically, they’re really good at finding things to cut themselves on. This often presents a challenge for those that care for them.

“Traumatic wounds are very common in horses and are often challenging to suture because of heavy bacterial contamination or high skin tension, among other reasons,” explained Lore Van Hecke, Mvetmed, from the Department of Surgery and Anaesthesiology of Domestic Animals, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, in Belgium. "As such, many wounds horses sustained are left unsutured to heal by what is called ‘second intention’ healing. This is a process where the wound slowly contracts and fills in with scar tissue."

To ensure such wounds are on the right path to healing, veterinarians must monitor the wound size and healing process closely. Van Hecke and colleagues hypothesized that three-dimensional imaging methods could be useful for monitoring a wound’s healing progression. However, such technologies can be challenging to use in horses because the procedure needs to be quick, and the devices cannot contact the wound (which could cause both pain and contamination).

There are currently several methods available for monitoring wounds, but there is a dearth of information supporting one over the other. So, Van Hecke and colleagues tested two of those technologies:

  • A digital photoplanimetry-based (DP) method that involves holding a digital camera perpendicular to the wound surface. This method involves a ruler in the camera’s field of vision to measure wo