Bone Chips in Horses: Why, Where, and What to Do
Small, but mighty, bone chips can be a proper pain in the joint
It wasn’t so long ago that mention of a broken-this or a shattered-that meant a horse’s demise. But with time, research, and improved imaging technology, veterinarians have determined that some fractures aren’t so terrible. One such example is a classic chip fracture.
Chips, short for bone chips, are technically osteochondral fragments—pieces of cartilage-covered bone (“osteo” for bone and “chondral” for cartilage) that have “chipped” off, often times into a joint.
“Osteochondral ‘chip’ fragments are common in athletic horses, especially racehorses,” says Robert J. Hunt, DVM, MSc, Dipl. AVCS, surgeon at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, in Lexington, Kentucky. “With proper management, chips do not have to be either the career- or life-threatening problem that other types of fractures are.”
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