Mid-metacarpal Deep Digital Flexor Tenotomy in the Management of Refractory Laminitis in Horses


DVM, MS, Department of Large Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602


Deep digital flexor tendon transection at the mid-metacarpus was performed in 20 horses with severe acute or chronic laminitis that was not responsive to conventional treatment. Sixteen horses improved within 72 hours, one horse worsened, and two horses were unaffected by the surgery. Eleven horses survived less than 1 month after surgery and six horses survived longer than 6 months. Three horses surviving longer than 6 months have remained lame and no horse has returned to athletic performance. Transection of the deep digital flexor tendon at the mid-metacarpus may decrease the pain associated with the acute refractory stage of laminitis and may be useful as an immediate salvage procedure; however, despite the early clinical improvement observed after tenotomy, the survival rate of affected horses may not be altered.