View Full Version : Broken bone is Stifle - vet says "Not to worry"

Jul. 3, 2009, 09:52 PM
So my customers horse pulls up lame at a show last Sunday. Off in the LH - looks too me like a suspesory or similar due to the nature of the event and how the horse was presenting.

They have a different vet than I do. Monday they haul her in for X-rays. Vet nerve blocks the horse, uses hoof testers etc - there is no heat or swelling. But horse is off none the less.

He keeps saying "this is not good, not good at all - muttering under his breath. To the point the owner who is 16 gets physically ill from the worry. The Mom hangs in there - I am not present.

Finally he says" Well she has a broken bone in her stifle but that is not the problem" :confused: "It's a soft tissue injury and I will have to send the x-rays off for further evaluation." END of Visit He walks away!

Client gets on the phone with me and is like "Woody! My horse has a broken bone in her stifle and the vet says that is not what is causing her lameness and that he is sending off the Xrays and then he walked away - what do I do?~"

I get her to demand an explanation and he says that the bone is a left over from evolution and is not weight bearing and is not causing the lameness. That the injury is soft tissue but he will send the xrays off to the surgical hospital for consultation :confused: No treatment available just kick her back out to pasture :confused:

Now it is a holiday - the vet is not calling back with the results from the surgical hospital - the horse who i think should be on stall rest with at the very least bute - is just turned out with her small herd as she is a pasture horse. She is a volatile gaming mare and family pet by trade. She is no better but no worse either.

My question - a broken bone in the stifle and it doesn't matter :eek: Have you ever heard of such a thing?

Because they haul in for lessons and haul on their own to shows I am a bit disconnected from her - but they asked me to ask around about this.

Thank you!

Pony Fixer
Jul. 3, 2009, 10:52 PM
I can't say for sure, but it sounds like the fibula may be fractured. It's the small bone next to the tibia. I've seen a few of these fractured--they do need time off because there are muscular attachments there.

But it also sounds like he thinks that fracture may be old (chronic) and he's getting a second opinion on the rads to back that up. In which case, the lameness WOULD be from something else, like a tendon, suspensory, etc. etc. elsewhere in the leg.

Jul. 4, 2009, 11:32 AM
Boy, that sounds odd to me. But I'm not a vet, and I didn't see the rads...

If it were *me* and it were *my* horse, I'd be giving bute and keeping on stall rest or in a small paddock and scheduling an evaluation with another veterinarian.

You're not going to see soft tissue injuries on radiographs anyway...so the question MAY be whether or not the broken bone/bone chip/whatever is really that or an artifact on the rad or something--and that makes it wise to send in for consult. BUT, that doesn't really address the soft tissue injury portion.

I am a fan of getting a diagnosis--not parts changing or the ol' wait an see though. So....just my two cents.

Jul. 4, 2009, 11:37 AM
If it were *me* and it were *my* horse, I'd be giving bute and keeping on stall rest or in a small paddock and scheduling an evaluation with another veterinarian.

I am a fan of getting a diagnosis--not parts changing or the ol' wait an see though. So....just my two cents.

I agree with BuddyRoo on both counts here. I would also consider getting a 2nd opinion before making any drastic decisions. Unfortunately, sometime soft tissue injuries can actually be worse and take longer to heal. I do know of an Advanced level event horse that broke his stifle, he came back but at a lower level, so there is hope.

Jul. 4, 2009, 12:46 PM
I think most likely the vet meant that the horse had chipped his patella (our kneecap). It is quite a common injury in high level event horses and often acquired at drop fences, particularly water jumps where the horse gets part way over the fence and thinks 'what the heck is THAT' dropping his hind legs on the fence. Some event horses, particularly with the twisty, turny modern tracks have also learnt to drop their stifles on fences to help them balance and turn and have almost permanently bruised stifles. William Fox-Pitt's horse Tamarillo is just one of many horses who have chipped a stifle and made a full recovery.

Obviously this is all circumspection BUT if this is the case, then being turned out in a quiet environment can be the best thing as it reduces swelling, the patella is not weight bearing and keeping the swelling and stiffness out via walking out in the pasture can aid recovery. Giving bute in this situation isn't necessary and can be counter-productive.

The only thing you can do is speak to your vet. Obviously if it is a weight bearing bone treatment would be very, very different - I can only emphasise to speak to the vet.

Jul. 4, 2009, 03:56 PM
If I can offer... yes, your vet is correct.
I have a mare (tb/appx)..with a fractured stifle in her RH ..(old healed injury)
Short of the story:
I worked for a trainer, broke this mare, sold to a show family, they changed boarding stables, horse was put in an Adjoining pasture -- got to kicking through the fence... and ta-da this mare limped away. The owners did x-rays, vet said, stifle bone fractured, time would heal... they went for 2nd opinion, that vet said surgery could cost $12,000 -- Husband/Dad said "dump the horse"...trainer calls me, so .............................
I buy a 3-legged horse. (with the last of what money I had, crazy right?)
Stalled, x-rays ea month to compare baseline, healing nicely....hand walk...
at end of 6 months, vet says to turn out and if it holds, then I have a nice horse, if not, I did my best.
It held !!!! and she surely did test it.! Vet x-rays and says ok to put to work,
standard conditioning process, walking hills, small jumps... legged up and ready for
First Day of cubbing season.....
and every day after that....she is now, um...1989,..20!!! and has never been sick or took a bad step ever after.
Poetic Justice :) :) :) :) :)