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Do all bone chips require surgery? Update with a question!

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  • Do all bone chips require surgery? Update with a question!

    I had a horse get a PPE yesterday and they turned up a small bone chip in her right front ankle. Horse is a yearling, and never shown any signs of lameness.
    I had looked at a young horse before (not the same horse as yesterday) that the owners disclosed as having a bone chip, but no lameness. They told me the vet had advised them the horse would absorb the chip with in 6-8 months.

    Is it common that a horse will absorb a chip?
    Do all bone chips require surgery?

    I'm turning to the CoTH because I haven't yet heard from my vet who was supposed to review the PPE from yesterday.
    Last edited by Katy9532; Jun. 15, 2013, 10:28 PM.

  • #2
    It absolutely 100% depends on where the chip is. And they can move, too, so even that is not always a guarantee.

    My opinion? Unless I really liked that filly, and her price reflected it, and the chip was in a "good spot," I would probably pass. Sure she's "never been lame" because all she's been doing is sitting in a field!

    I would be much more inclined to "ignore" a chip on an actively competing show horse/race horse.


    • #3
      You'll need to rely on your vet who did the PPE -- who examined the horse and the xrays. GFG's post is spot on. And your vet can give a ballpark how much of a risk there might be down the road.


      • Original Poster

        Thanks folks. I have a horse that I breed that is recovering from bone chip surgery right now, it is not something that I want to go through again.
        I will call the out of state vet right now and listen to what he thinks of this chip.
        He was supposed to report back to my vet, and I was supposed to hear from him... Guess things are really busy right now, because I am still waiting to hear.

        Has anyone experienced a horse that absorbed a chip? If so, how did that turn out?
        In my horses case, she had to have the surgery, there was no way around it.


        • #5
          I sold a horse some years ago that never had a lameness issue...but during the PPE the xrays showed mare had a bone chip in one of her back ankles. Price of horse was reduced by several thousand b/c of that.....but 6 years later the buyers did not do surgery on mare and she is just fine. Mare was 6 when sold.

          I too, have heard that some chips---reabsorb....but really don't know. On a youngster like the one you are looking at.....and having a chip....I'd pass especially since you have gone through this before.

          Sorry, and good luck



          • #6
            I agree with Goodforagallop's response.
            My horse has an old bone chip; extensor process of the coffin bone. He's an ex racehorse, so that lesion is common. Passed a lameness exam in his PPE when he was 2; he's 6 now with no issues (yet).
            If it was in a joint (like carpus), I'd be a lot more hesitant to let it slide.


            • Original Poster

              Just got off the phone with the vet that did the PPE. He think this filly is not a surgical candidate at this time, and perhaps never will be. He said, if I plan to keep the horse, it would be a great negotiating tool, but not a deal breaker.
              He also said a horse does not absorb a chip.
              Last edited by Katy9532; May. 31, 2013, 04:35 PM.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Katy9532 View Post
                I had a horse get a PPE yesterday and they turned up a small bone chip in her right front ankle. Horse is a yearling, and never shown any signs of lameness.
                I had looked at a young horse before (not the same horse as yesterday) that the owners disclosed as having a bone chip, but no lameness. They told me the vet had advised them the horse would absorb the chip with in 6-8 months.

                Is it common that a horse will absorb a chip?
                Do all bone chips require surgery?

                I'm turning to the CoTH because I haven't yet heard from my vet who was supposed to review the PPE from yesterday.

                OCD will sometimes if your lucky reabsorb in young horses. I think if the OCD fragment is still there by age two the chip needs to be surgically removed. Although other vets may advise removing the bone chip sooner than later to avoid the chip doing any damage to the joint. Many OCD are not discovered until pre-purchase exams and some horses go through years of showing and training never knowing there is a bone chip in there. It depends on the location of the chip. If this horse is insured with extended medical the bone chip removal surgery will likely be covered, once the chip is removed it will often cause no more problems proving no damage has been done within the joint capsule. I have had bone fragment removal surgery on one of my youngsters with no complications and horse is doing now doing awesome in training. I have never heard of a bone chip reabsorbing only of a OCD reabsorbing.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Fharoah View Post
                  If this horse is insured with extended medical the bone chip removal surgery will likely be covered, once the chip is removed it will often cause no more problems proving no damage has been done within the joint capsule.
                  This is actually a good point to bring up....if the filly is ALREADY insured, then yes, surgery may be covered by insurance.

                  However, if she is not currently insured and is going to be, this chip will need to be disclosed as a "pre existing condition" and will not be covered. Tough to already have insurance exclusions on a yearling!


                  • Original Poster

                    Insurance was my first thought when the vet mentioned the chip. I highly doubt the current owners have the horse insured.


                    • #11
                      I have bought two horses with ankle chips. Both were adults when the chip was discovered (5 and 6 years old), and both x-rayed and flexed clean 2-3 years down the road without surgery/treatment.

                      This was some time ago (15 years or so), so don't remember the details, just that the chips were small, and not in the joint. Not sure I would buy a yearling with a chip though...in my case both were trained and ready to show...and the chip made their price affordable for me!
                      Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                      • #12
                        I had a big boy who I did a baseline set of xrays as a two year old..........and found a bone chip in the rear of a fetlock. I was ready to do surgery, but the most reputable vets told me it wasn't necessary........that the place where it was located would probably never pose a problem. If it did, he could have a surgery when it did.
                        I've owned him 13 years.........he's done 3'6 EQ, Amateur Owners and foxhunted all over the country. It's never been a problem!!!
                        Good luck........
                        www.flyingcolorsfarm.comHome of pinto stallion Claim to Fame and his homozygous son, Counterclaim. Friend us on Facebook!https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Fl...04678589573428


                        • Original Poster

                          I had a good long talk with my vet last week about the filly and her "bone chip." He says he does not believe there is a bone chip. He says there is possibly a rough spot on a growth plate, but over all he felt her x-rays were very clean. He even went as far as having the "head vet" (not sure what else to call him) at the clinic he works at take a look. They both agree there is nothing to be concerned with.

                          So, my question:
                          My insurance requires a write up of the pre purchase. The vet that did the PPE wrote there is a possible bone chip. Now I have two other vets saying there is no chip. So do I have my vet write up a new PPE? I am afraid my insurance will not cover that leg. I'd prefer to have the whole horse insured.


                          • #14
                            I would ask my insurance agent after explaining the situation to him/her.


                            • Original Poster

                              Quite frankly, I'm afraid to ask my insurance. I'm afraid they won't insure that leg at all, regardless of what the two vets here at home think.


                              • #16
                                FYI, I bought a horse at 8 yo from a friend who had had him since he was 3. Never lame a day. After 3 years with me he went suddenly dead lame on LF. Found an old bone chip off the fetlock joint (assume it was from before age 3). Went in to take it out, discovered the chip itself wasn't causing the pain - it was the rough edges on the fetlock joint where the chip had broken off that had, over time, worn completely through the cartilage. They removed the chip, smoothed the joint as best they could, and followed surgery with a course of IRAP (3 treatments). It's now been 2+ years and he's been completely sound. My point is that sometimes it's not the chip itself that causes the problems, it's the condition of the place where the chip used to be...

                                FYI, my insurance only excluded that leg for the first 6 months when I renewed, then picked up coverage on it again when we could show that he was sound and back to work. They said that a bone chip is typically considered a 1-time occurrence, not an ongoing condition. Not sure all insurers view it that way.
                                It's just grass and water till it hits the ground.