Fixing Horse Splint Bone Fractures With Absorbable Screws

Researchers have learned that fractured splint bone healing can be optimized by replacing metal screws with absorbable ones.

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fixing horse splint bone fractures
At 12 months after the operation, the bioabsorbable screws were visible in radiographs as lucent cone shapes, but they did not interfere with imaging like traditional metal implants can. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Fractures in the proximal (upper) third of splint bones, close to the knee, can be career-ending injuries without treatment, but even fixation with metal implants to hold the bone in place isn’t a surefire fix. Metal screws have issues of their own, sometimes hindering healing and interfering with future diagnostic imaging. Fortunately, though, veterinarians have a new treatment method at their disposal. A recent study has shown that fractured splint bone healing can be optimized by replacing metal screws with absorbable ones.

“Bioabsorbable screws appear significantly more biocompatible with the natural tissues than metallic screws,” said Mahmoud Mageed, DrMedVet, of Tierklinik Lüsche GmbH Equine Hospital, in Bakum‐Lüsche, Germany.

Another advantage, Mageed said, is that the horse’s body does, in fact, absorb the screw material. As a result, the screw would likely not need to be removed via a second surgery, as is often the case with metal screws

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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