Detecting Coffin Bone Fractures in Young Foals

Using proper diagnostic technique and good quality radiographs is critical when diagnosing these fractures in foals.
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With their spindly limbs and delicate bodies, young foals are at risk for an array of injuries. One that researchers are determining is more common than previously thought are distal phalanx (coffin bone) fractures.

Babak Faramarzi, DVM, MSc, PhD, assistant professor at Western University of Health Sciences’ College of Veterinary Medicine, in Pomona, California, studied this fracture’s prevalence in young foals and how to best diagnose it. He presented his findings during the 2014 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 6-10 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Faramarzi began by describing the seven types of distal phalanx fractures, each involving a different portion of the foot. Foals typically experience Type VII fractures of the solar margin (toward where the hoof meets the ground) that, while often unnoticed due to lack of lameness, do have an excellent prognosis, he said.

"In adult horses, the most common cause (of distal phalanx fracture) is trauma (e.g., kicking a wall or hard surface)," Faramarzi explained. "The etiology is not known in foals," but could result from excessive force from the deep digital flexor tendon, conformation, nutrition, genetics, excessive sole trimming, and being turned out on muddy surfaces

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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