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Osteomyelitis of the Patella in Eight Foals


  • Cases were collected by the first author while working at Rossdales Equine Hospital and Diagnostic Center, Hagyard Equine Medical Institute and The Ohio State Veterinary Medical Center. The paper was compiled by the first author while working at The University of Wisconsin-Madison.

  • Presented in part at the American College of Veterinary Surgeons Symposium, October 21-23, 2010, Seattle, WA

Corresponding Author

Alastair T. Kay, BVSc, Minster Equine Clinic, York, YO26 6QF, UK




To describe the characteristics of osteomyelitis lesions of the patella and to report short- and long-term outcome after treatment in 8 foals.

Study Design

Retrospective case series.


Foals (n = 8).


Medical records (2003–2007) and radiographs of foals that had osteomyelitis of the patella were reviewed. Inclusion criteria included clinical, radiographic, and surgical findings consistent with osteomyelitis of the patella, and a long-term follow-up of >15 months. Information acquired included signalment, hematologic and serum biochemical profile results, clinical and radiographic signs, surgical technique and perioperative treatment. Follow-up radiographs were evaluated and outcome was determined from veterinary examination, race records, and telephone questionnaire.


Six foals survived long term (15 months–4 years); all had intralesional and systemic antimicrobial therapy, along with synovial lavage and antimicrobial medication. All were sound and achieved either yearling sales (n=3), show hunter or racing (2). Two foals died in the short term from renal failure and suppurative peritonitis secondary to cecal perforation, 1 remaining lame with suppurative osteonecrosis confirmed at necropsy. This foal was not administered intralesional antimicrobial therapy.


Prompt medical and surgical therapy for osteomyelitis of the patella can result in a good prognosis for soundness and a potential athletic career. Concurrent septicemia or other systemic perinatal disease can result in prolonged therapy and delayed recovery.