Objectives— To describe surgical arthrodesis of the scapulohumeral joint and to evaluate its efficacy in reducing morbidity associated with severe shoulder dysfunction in miniature horses.
Study Design— Retrospective study.
Animals— Four miniature horses.
Methods— Medical records and radiographs were reviewed for history, physical examination findings, lameness evaluation, radiographic evaluation, surgical techniques, postoperative complications, and outcome. A 10- or 11-hole, 4.5-mm narrow dynamic compression plate and 4.5-mm cortical screws were applied to the cranial surface of the scapula and cranial surface of the humerus after osteotomy of the intermediate tubercle. In most horses, 1 or 2 screws were inserted in lag fashion across the joint, through holes in the plate.
Results— Scapulohumeral osteoarthritis was diagnosed radiographically in 4 horses, and 3 horses had concurrent shoulder luxation or subluxation. All horses had grade 3 or 4 lameness before surgery, and most improved by 1 to 2 grades after surgery. Despite complications of implant failure (2 horses), infection (2 horses), scapular fracture (1 horse), and atrophy of the shoulder muscles (1 horse), functional arthrodesis reduced morbidity in all horses.
Conclusions— Scapulohumeral arthrodesis facilitates early return to weight bearing in miniature horses with severe scapulohumeral joint osteoarthrosis. Despite functional gait abnormality, the horses ambulated quite well after surgery.
Clinical Relevance— Scapulohumeral arthrodesis should be considered for debilitating conditions of the shoulder joint in miniature horses, especially when the intended outcome is breeding or pasture soundness.