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Clinical Services » Large Animal » Equine Surgery » Orthopedic Surgery » Abnormal Limb Conformation

UTCVM Abnormal Limb Conformation

The term, angular limb deformity, describes abnormal conformation, in which a portion of the limb is deviated medially or laterally. Common examples include: knock-kneed horses (carpal valgus), windswept horses (e.g., carpal valgus of one forelimb and carpal varus [inward deviation of the limb below the carpus] of the other forelimb), cow-hocked (tarsal valgus), and ankle joint deformities (fetlock varus or valgus). Multiple options of treatment of horses with these conditions are available at the University of Tennessee. These include surgeries that slow growth of the long side of the bone to allow the short side to “catch-up.” These surgeries include transphyseal bridging using screws and wire, a single transphyseal screw, or a staple. Angular limb deformities can also be corrected with a surgery (periosteal stripping) that speeds growth of the short side of the bone to allow it to “catch-up” to the long side. Corrective trimming and shoeing using hoof extensions can be performed alone or in conjunction with surgical treatment.

The term, flexural limb deformity, describes abnormal conformation where one or more joints of the limb are hyperflexed or hyperextended. Examples of flexural limb deformities include: club foot conformation and over at the knees (calf-kneed or goat-kneed). Treatments at the University of Tennessee for correction of flexural deformity include check ligament desmotomy, which is a surgical procedure that releases tension on either the superficial or deep digital flexor tendon to correct flexural deformity. Medical therapy and corrective trimming and shoeing, using hoof extensions, can be used alone or in addition to surgical treatment.

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