Reasons for performing study: Neurectomy of the deep branch of the lateral plantar nerve and plantar fasciotomy have become accepted as methods of treatment of proximal suspensory desmopathy (PSD), but there are limited long-term studies documenting the outcome.
Objectives: To describe long-term follow-up in horses with PSD alone or with other injuries contributing to lameness and poor performance, including complications, following neurectomy and fasciotomy.
Methods: Follow-up information was acquired for 155 horses that had undergone neurectomy and fasciotomy for treatment of PSD between 2003 and 2008. Success was classified as a horse having been in full work for >1 year post operatively. Horses were divided into 3 groups on the basis of the results of clinical assessment and diagnostic analgesia. Horses in Group 1 had primary PSD and no other musculoskeletal problem. Horses in Group 2 had primary PSD in association with straight hock conformation and/or hyperextension of the metatarsophalangeal joint. Horses in Group 3 had PSD and other problems contributing to lameness or poor performance.
Results: In Group 1, 70 of 90 horses (77.8%) had a successful outcome, whereas in Group 3, 23 of 52 horses (44.2%) returned to full function for >1 year. Complications included iatrogenic damage to the plantar aspect of the suspensory ligament, seroma formation, residual curb-like swellings and the development of white hairs. All horses in Group 2 remained lame.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: There is a role for neurectomy of the deep branch of the lateral plantar nerve and plantar fasciotomy for long-term management of hindlimb PSD, but a prerequisite for successful management requires recognition of risk factors for poor outcome including conformation features of straight hock or fetlock hyperextension.