When a horse’s patella locks up, owners can hope for a resolution through conservative treatments such as increased exercise, corrective farriery, intraligamentary injections, and even acupuncture. But when those treatments fail, you might want to turn to surgery, suggest scientists in Denmark.

The standard surgical treatment for upward fixation of the patella (UFP) used to be a procedure known as medial patellar ligament desmotomy (in which the surgeon cuts the ligament to release the locked patella). But it comes with its own set of post-surgical complications, and not all owners are satisfied with the results.

Fortunately, a less invasive procedure called medial patellar ligament splitting (MPLS) has been showing good outcomes, and Aziz Tnibar, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ECVS, and colleagues recently completed a long-term follow-up evaluating treated horses. The long-term results, according to the research team, are very positive, with a 97.6% success rate.

“This procedure is currently the best surgical treatment for this condition,” said Tnibar, a specialist in equine surgery at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences of the University of Copenhagen, in Taastrup.

During an MPLS procedure, the surgeon inserts a blade or needle (sometimes guided by ultrasound) through the skin to split the proximal (inner) third part of the medial patellar ligament—often with the horse standing sedated.

In their review of 85 horses undergoing MPLS between 1999 and 2013, Tnibar and his fellow researchers were able to follo