Navicular Bursitis in Horses: Improving Outcomes

While surgery alone can improve septic navicular bursitis prognoses, recent study results suggest outcomes can be even better if surgery is combined with antimicrobials and therapeutic shoeing.
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navicular bursitis in horses
The researchers believe that raising the heel after surgery increases horse comfort and increases his ability to walk with a more correct gait, which can potentially decrease the incidence of scarring and encourage the foot to grow in a more normal fashion. | Photo: Photo: Courtesy Dr. David G. Suarez-Fuentes

A nail, a wire, anything sharp. The sort of thing that doesn’t belong anywhere near a horse’s foot. Unfortunately, things like this do sometimes end up puncturing right through the frog or heel and up into the navicular area. When that happens, infection could set in, and the results can be devastating.

While surgery alone can improve the outcome of septic navicular bursitis, recent study results suggest outcomes are even better if surgery is combined with antimicrobial therapies, said David G. Suarez-Fuentes, DVM, who previously worked and conducted the study at Iowa State University (ISU) College of Veterinary Medicine, in Ames. When surgeons combine those therapies with the use of a special lifting bar shoe, success appears even more likely.

“We report the approach to the surgical procedure (navicular bursotomy) with the addition of the use of antimicrobial regional limb perfusions (not previously reported in combination with the bursotomy) in combination with systemic antibiotics to treat the contaminated and/or infected bursa,” Suarez-Fuentes said

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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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