Periosteal stripping is the primary surgical technique for angular limb deformities of the lower radius and tibia. During the surgery, the veterinarian makes an inverted T-shaped incision just above the growth plates on the shorter side of the bone and then peels away the periosteum from the bone at the site to encourage growth.
One of the advantages of periosteal stripping is that there is no screw to remove (unlike transphyseal bridging), so there is no need for a second surgery and no risk of the limb overcorrecting as a result of the treatment. In addition, the hospitalization period is slightly shorter, making the overall cost of the operation less expensive.
“It is a simple procedure that can be done rather quickly,” said Alan Ruggles, DVM, ACVS, who works as a surgeon at Rood And Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky. “There is some controversy over its effectiveness, but it’s my opinion that periosteal stripping is a useful technique but not for every foal.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” said Brooke Royster, owner of Chance Farm, a Thoroughbred breeding operation in Gordonsville, Va. “Certain candidates are definitely better than others for periosteal stripping, but I do feel that it has been beneficial in correcting angular deformities in many of the foals I’ve seen.”
The technique was first used to treat humans who suffered from the debilitating effects of polio. In 1980, the procedure was adapted for use in equines, but many veterinarians disagree on whether the procedure is truly effective or if the success is due more in part to the post-operative exercise restriction and corrective hoof trimming.
“The procedure has not been scientifically proven to accelerate growth, but it is difficult to replicate clinical procedure,” explained Ruggles who said he has seen success in his surgeries involving use of periosteal stripping.