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[RC] Mystery Lameness - Diagnosis! - Jennifer Thompson

Hi all,

I finally have an answer to my gelding's right front lameness that I posted about a week or two ago. I wanted to tell everyone here because I got so many emails, ranging from suggestions and ideas, to just plain old "I wish you the best of luck" messages.

I decided not to wait another month as my vet recommended (to wait for ringbone-related boney changes to possibly appear on x-ray). I decided to not wait any longer, after thinking about how I waited too long with my mare when she had an undiagnosed lameness and regretting it later after finding out that had I found her injury earlier, she might have had a better outcome.

I took Shahtahr to the Alamo Pintado clinic in Los Olivos, CA on Tuesday. There, he underwent nerve blocks, digital radiograhps and ultrasound. Nothing showed, except for a beautiful, healthy leg and foot. NO sign of ringbone - joints looked great. No sign of anything else. The mysterious bulge at his coronary band was a timely coincidence. It was soft tissue injury, probably due to him banging it against something. The bulge is almost gone now.

When the first diagnostics left the vets baffled, we opted to do a CAT scan the next day, under general anesthesia. And that's when they found it.

He has suffered a very rare, odd injury that even the vets at Alamo Pintado have never personally seen, only heard about. Shahtahr has somehow managed to tear a small ligament that attaches to his navicular bone. It is called the Navicular Bone Suspensory Ligament (no relation to the suspensory ligament further up the leg that we all are familiar with). This is usually a low-motion ligament and is very hard to injure. It has been torn, and has resulted in some boney changes on the medial wing of his navicular bone.

Soft tissue injuries within the hoof capsule are usually to the impar ligament or to the deep digital flexor tendon. Leave it to my boy to do something totally out of the ordinary. I always knew he was special. :)

We confirmed the diagnosis with a bone scan, and it lit up like a Christmas tree.

His prognosis for full soundness is fair, with 4-6 months stall rest and daily handwalking.

He is to be shod in eggbar shoes, with a 2 degree wedge and pads for the duration of healing time.

We will do another bone scan in four months to see if it has healed and take it from there.

My boy has lived his whole life with plenty of turnout space and is not doing well tonight, on his first night of confinement to a small space. He tried to climb out of his 12x24 pipe corral. I hope he settles down. :(

Thanks again everybody. And please, take it from me, if your horse has a lameness that your regular vet cannot readily and confidently diagnose, don't wait! Go for the high-tech diagnostics if you can afford them. I lost the usefulness of my mare two years ago because I waited, and I possibly could have lost Shahtahr, since a ligament injury like this will often appear better before it fully heals, resulting in re-injury again and again, when the horse is returned to work too soon.

Thanks again everybody, and see you next season!

Jennifer and Shahtahr




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