Objective: To describe short incomplete sagittal fractures of the proximal phalanx (type Ia P1 fractures) in horses not used for racing and report outcome.
Study Design: Retrospective study.
Animals: Horses (n=10) with type Ia P1 fractures.
Methods: Retrieved data of horses with type Ia P1 fractures were signalment, history and results of orthopedic examination. Radiographs were re-evaluated for position and length of the fracture line, presence of osteoarthritis or subchondral cystic lesions (SCL), periosteal new bone formation and subchondral sclerosis. Conservative treatment (n=4) included box confinement for 2 months followed by 1 month of hand walking. Surgical therapy (n=6) consisted of internal fixation by screws inserted in lag fashion in 5 horses. Concurrent SCL were debrided by curettage via a transcortical drilling approach. In one horse, only SCL curettage but not internal fixation was performed. Outcome was assessed on a clinical and radiographic follow-up examination in all horses.
Results: Mean follow-up time was 27 months (median, 13.5 months; range, 9 months to 9 years). All horses treated with internal fixation were sound at follow-up and had radiographic fracture healing. Of the 4 horses managed conservatively, 3 remained lame and only 1 horse had radiographic evidence of fracture healing. Catastrophic fracture propagation occurred in 2 horses not treated by internal fixation, 20 and 30 months after diagnosis, respectively.
Conclusions: Horses with a type Ia P1 fracture treated surgically had a better outcome than those managed conservatively and lack of fracture healing seemingly increased the risk of later catastrophic fracture.
Clinical relevance: Surgical repair of type Ia P1 fractures should be considered to optimize healing and return to athletic use.