February 2008


Rio is a 23 year old quarterhorse gelding that was presented to San Juan Veterinary Hospital for a wire cut on his left front foot. The cut had penetrated the heel bulb and the coronet band. By the looks of the cut, it was at least 1 week old. There is an excessive amount of proud flesh that has tried to fill in the wound. The following pictures are what the wound looked like when he presented...

Since this wound was old, we could not put a cast on right away. We clipped and cleaned the wound and placed it in a leg wrap to help disinfect the area before we could perform surgery. Notice in the following pictures how much cleaner the wound looked after only 3 days in the saline leg wrap. During surgery, the proud flesh was removed in order to allow the heel to be sutured back to the foot.

There are many ways to treat heel bulb lacerations. The preferred method is to suture the wound together and then place the foot into a distal limb cast. The reason the cast works so well is it keeps the heels from expanding when the horse walks and therefore the wound stays together and heels faster. Here are a few pictures of Rio's distal limb cast.

Most horses tolerate a distal limb cast very well. Horses with distal limb casts must stay in a dry, clean stall for 2-3 weeks. After 2-3 weeks, the cast is removed and the wound is evaluated. Here are the pictures of Rio's heel bulb laceration after only 3 weeks.

A light standing bandage was placed over the heel to allow the wound to continue to heal for a week following the removal of the cast. We were very pleased with the progress Rio made wearing his cast. Although the intial cost of treating this problem was greater than simply bandaging the heel, the expense of bandaging the heel for weeks often exceeds the cast treatment. If you have any questions regarding this case or questions about heel bulb lacerations, please call us at (970) 264-2629.


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