Maggots Improve Chronic Hoof Puncture Wound Healing

You might have heard about the value of using medical maggots to clean infected, nonhealing wounds in horses and humans, but did you know they can also help clean up infection in structures deep within the hoof?

At the 2009 American

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You might have heard about the value of using medical maggots to clean infected, nonhealing wounds in horses and humans, but did you know they can also help clean up infection in structures deep within the hoof?

At the 2009 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 5-9 in Las Vegas, Nev., one presenter described improved success with treating certain difficult deep hoof puncture wounds using maggots. Specifically, Raul Bras, DVM, of the Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., reported increased success with using maggots to treat punctures of the navicular bursa compared to previous studies.

The navicular bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac between the navicular bone (behind the coffin bone) and the deep digital flexor tendon that runs over it. Puncture wounds that compromise the navicular bursa can be especially problematic because the navicular bursa is a deep structure that’s hard to evaluate, clean, and medicate. Bras advised that puncture wounds affecting this structure often go unnoticed until the horse becomes severely lame within hours or a few days. Complications such as osteomyelitis (bone infection) and damage to the deep digital flexor tendon sheath and/or coffin bone are not unusual if the infection can’t be eradicated quickly.

Some procedures commonly used to clean and treat these wounds might help resolve the infection, but they can damage nearby tissues to gain access to the bursa (such as the "street nail" procedure used for cases with complications, which cuts away significant amounts of tissue to leave a window for treatment)

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Written by:

Christy West has a BS in Equine Science from the University of Kentucky, and an MS in Agricultural Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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