Evaluation of a Minimally Invasive Arthrodesis Technique for the Carpometacarpal Joint in Horses

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Objective:To evaluate a minimally invasive technique for arthrodesis of the carpometacarpal (CMC) joint in horses.Study Design:Experimental study.Animals:Healthy horses (n=6).Methods:A 5.5 mm, 3-drill tract arthrodesis technique was evaluated in 1 randomly selected CMC joint in each of 6 normal horses. Peak vertical ground reaction force (GRF) values were recorded before surgery and at 6, 8, and 12 months thereafter. Radiographic and clinical lameness scores were assigned at regular intervals until 12 months after surgery when the horses were euthanatized. Gross and histologic examinations were performed on the treated CMC joints.Results:After surgery, all horses were lame. Clinical resolution of lameness occurred in 2 by 12 months. Mean peak vertical GRF values significantly differed between treated and nontreated limbs at all recorded time points after surgery. Radiographic scores significantly differed from day 0 at all times after surgery, but did not change significantly after 4 months. Intraarticular bony ankylosis only occurred in 2 horses, based on gross, histologic, and microradiographic examination of sagittal sections of the operated CMC joints.Conclusion:The 5.5 mm, 3-drill tract arthrodesis technique was considered successful in only 2 of 6 normal CMC joints treated. Greater articular damage may be necessary to achieve arthrodesis in normal horses. Better results may be achieved by technique modification or in horses affected by CMC osteoarthritis.

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