A team of British researchers has recently completed a study evaluating the success rates of a novel technique they developed to treat congenital flexural deformities in young foals, with promising results.

Flexural deformities occur when the soft tissue structures in foals’ legs are disfigured causing one or more joints to be "stuck" in the flexed position; often, more than one limb is involved in affected foals. Mild cases often resolve with exercise alone or in combination with customized splints and/or casts, toe extensions, and/or intravenous oxytetracycline (which has been shown to relax tendons and ligaments). More severe cases, however, can keep the foal from standing and typically necessitate surgical intervention—which carries a high price tag and risks associated with general anesthesia—to correct the deformity. Lower limb deformities (such as those involving the fetlock and coffin joints) are more easily corrected and carry a better prognosis for recovery than deformities located higher in the leg (such as knee deformities).

Polly Compston, BSc, BVM&S, MRCVS, a resident in clinical research, and Richard Payne, BSc, BVSc, CertES, Dipl. ECVS, MRCVS, a surgeon and partner at Rossdales Equine Hospital in Newmarket, England, recently evaluated a novel technique for treating congenital flexural deformities (those present from birth) in foals’ lower limbs that they believe can save time, money, and possibly even a trip to the hospital.

Compston and Payne described the technique in the study: "We make a cast for the leg that is not affected by the deformity as a template for how the aff