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Removal of Splint bone and future limitations

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  • Removal of Splint bone and future limitations

    I have posted two threads about my horses fractured splint situation. Unfortunately, we have had to opt for surgery to have the splint shaved down and the doctor said they will also remove the splint bone. REMOVING THE SPLINT BONE? WHAT?!?!? I asked him as many questions as I can to try and understand this logic but it just doesnt make sense to me. They are removing a bone that is supposed to be there? Won't this limit his future? Is it a supporting bone? I just dont get it. Any insight, COTHers?

    Also, it doesnt look like the suspensory will really be damaged but they won't know until they "dig in". He said if all goes well we are looking at 30 days confinement then start back slowly under saddle. Crossing my fingers

  • #2
    the splint bone is non supporting. my mare had hers broken into a hundred little pieces, it is not longer there, the broken pieces got resorbed by the body. she is quite sound and happy. We do dressage and have opted to not cross train her jumping just for safety but the vet says we can. We just choose not to.


    • #3
      I will repost what I posted on your other threads:

      "Considering your screenname, I'm guessing you are hoping for this horse to event...

      I would encourage you to consider having the lower splint bone removed, provided that it is a distal fracture. Healed fractures of the splint bone that are quite large run a risk of continued suspensory irritation for the rest of the their career...they come sound, get going, get you excited about their future, and then go lame. And the cycle repeats. Now, that may not happen -- the splint may never irritate the suspensory -- but you take a gamble leaving it in, versus removing it and knowing you won't have to deal with a suspensory concern down the road."

      Just "shaving off" the splint does not have a very good prognosis. Splints that are not fractures are calcifications that result from damage to the periosteum. Smoothing down the bone, by process, is damage to the periosteum...and often results in the splint returning to the same size if not bigger. The body's healing process is actually what produces a non-fracture-splint.

      Removal of the affected portion of the splint bone, provided it is fairly distal, is like removing an infected appendix. It can stay in there if it's not going to cause an issue, but once it interferes, it better come out. The surgery is not difficult, the recovery is not very long, and the risk of NOT doing it is worse.

      Also, to quote an accomplished lameness veterinarian, "God gave horses splint bones so vets like me would have something to do in the winter."


      • #4
        I don't know anything about your situation, but my horse had portions of both splint bones on the left hind leg removed and she was good to go. I was cautious on rehab because of possible suspensory involvement, but it wasn't an issue. Horse never had a problem afterwards.


        • #5
          My Clydesdale mare had her splint bone removed after it was shattered by a kick from another draft mare. She had a young foal at her side, and I did not want to trailer them, so the vet did the removal in the barn with local blocks. If the removal had been done at the clinic, it is likely a small part of the bone would not have been left behind (no portable x ray) and we worried it would aggrate the suspensory, but that never happened. It has not caused any problems, although she is not a performance horse.


          • #6
            Mr. Studly had his splint bone removed because an old injury had calcified in such a way that the splintered end of the bone began to irritate his suspensory.
            The splint bone had also 'fused' to the large bone and made it impossible to remove entirely. It was not an especially difficult surgery or recovery, but as Training Level mentioned, if it had been removed when the injury occured, he would not have had the suspensory issue later.
            Y'all ain't right!


            • #7
              Sisters mare had her splint bone removed after it was shattered in a pasture accident. The surgery went well although the mare hated the stall rest. She came back 100% sound. She is a lower level mare but has never given an indication that her limitations are tied to a weakness with that leg.


              • #8
                My prior gelding kicked a pipe and cable fence playing out in the pasture, fractured the splint bone and it dropped down into the ankle joint. Needleess to say, it had to be removed. The leg never gave him any problems at all afterwards. Never stocked up, was sore, etc. When I switched trainers, the new trainer (who is awesome - still with him off and on 13 years later) didn't believe me about the surgery as it healed with basically no scar as well. It never affected his career - the limiting factor for him was his horrible case of anhydrosis.


                • #9
                  A Friesian gelding I had a few years ago had one of his front splint bones removed. He re-injured an old cold splint and the resulting calcification was irritating his suspensory. The surgery went well and he has been completely sound since then (I no longer own him but sold him to a friend who uses him as a lower level dressage school horse).


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CCISuperStar View Post
                    I have posted two threads about my horses fractured splint situation. Unfortunately, we have had to opt for surgery to have the splint shaved down and the doctor said they will also remove the splint bone. REMOVING THE SPLINT BONE? WHAT?!?!? I asked him as many questions as I can to try and understand this logic but it just doesnt make sense to me. They are removing a bone that is supposed to be there? Won't this limit his future? Is it a supporting bone? I just dont get it. Any insight, COTHers?

                    Also, it doesnt look like the suspensory will really be damaged but they won't know until they "dig in". He said if all goes well we are looking at 30 days confinement then start back slowly under saddle. Crossing my fingers
                    You might read the article that was published in Equus based upon the work of Gary M Baxter, VDM, MS

                    Rethinking splint bone injuries
                    Historically, the splint bones have been thought to provide axial stability to the carpus and tarsus, and “splints” are thought to occur from excessive concussion of the proximal forelimb splint bones. However, recent work suggests that the proximal aspect of the splint bones may be very important in providing rotational stability of the carpus/tarsus and that the 2/3rds rule of splint bone removal may be inaccurate. The role of the splint bone in carpal/tarsal stability will be discussed together with a variety of splint injuries and fractures.


                    • #11
                      HI all. I know all this posts are old, but i need to ask this question

                      I am also in a battle with my horse. HIs right front inner splintbone got smashed. its not fragmented, but excessive bone lesions are growing. my Vet refuse to think that this is impeding on the suspesory ligament even though this horse has been lame for 4 months now.

                      you guys talk about its not a big thing to remove splint bones. does this count for front legs as I kept being told that this bone supports the knee?


                      • #12
                        Hello Arabchick. If you are not in agreement with the progress of your horse's injury, and are questioning your vet's decisions, you need to get an opinion on this from another vet.

                        Normally, the top part of the splint bone (closest to the knee) is left intact, if possible. The splint bone is normally fully calcified to the cannon bone, especially at the top. This supplies support to the knee, even if the bottom part is removed surgically. This is why it is considered "not a big deal" to remove this lower part of the broken splint bone. With many horses the fusion of the splint bone is not complete, and the lower portion is floating, attached to the cannon only with ligaments. It comes out OK if necessary.

                        If surgery is not being recommended, and the vet/s believe that the suspensory is not being bothered by the injury but the horse is still lame, it is fully possible that the horse is still lame from the bone issue. Sometimes these breaks can remain sore for a long time, they just don't seem to heal up well sometimes. In these cases, freeze firing the area can make the difference, can drive the healing to completion when nature doesn't get this done fully. Ask about freeze firing this. It is cheap, easy and works well. I have had partial splint bone removal surgery that worked well. I have also had another horse who had a break that did not heal, and was not diagnosed at the time. We all thought it was just a splint. But it wasn't, there was a break there too, under the calcification that we were looking at. Since it was already semi calcified, and she was still lame on it months later, we freeze fired it. Worked like a charm. It will leave a few white hairs from the procedure, but the knot of calcification ("splint" we could see) disappeared over time, and the white hairs even faded out over time too.