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The effect of hoof angle variations on dorsal lamellar load in the equine hoof

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Summary

Reasons for performing study: In the treatment of laminitis it is believed that reducing tension in the deep digital flexor tendon by raising the palmar angle of the hoof can reduce the load on the dorsal lamellae, allowing them to heal or prevent further damage.

Objective: To determine the effect of alterations in hoof angle on the load in the dorsal laminar junction.

Methods: Biomechanical finite element models of equine hooves were created with palmar angles of the distal phalanx varying from 0–15°. Tissue material relations accounting for anisotropy and the effect of moisture were used. Loading conditions simulating the stages in the stance where the vertical ground reaction force, midstance joint moment and breakover joint moment were maximal, were applied to the models. The loads were adjusted to account for the reduction in joint moment caused by increasing the palmar angle. Models were compared using the stored elastic energy, an indication of load, which was sampled in the dorsal laminar junction.

Results: For all loading cases, increasing the palmar angle increased the stored elastic energy in the dorsal laminar junction. The stored elastic energy near the proximal laminar junction border for a palmar angle of 15° was between 1.3 and 3.8 times that for a palmar angle of 0°. Stored elastic energy at the distal laminar junction border was small in all cases. For the breakover case, stored elastic energy at the proximal border also increased with increasing palmar angle.

Conclusions and potential relevance: The models in this study predict that raising the palmar angle increases the load on the dorsal laminar junction. Therefore, hoof care interventions that raise the palmar angle in order to reduce the dorsal lamellae load may not achieve this outcome.

See also correspondence by Redden

See also correspondence by Curtis

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