Radiographic image of the extensor process fragment
Researchers led by Dr. Willem Back conducted a retrospective look at the issue of extensor process fragments in 18 Friesian horses. The objective of their research was to “report long-term clinical and radiological follow-up in horses after removal of large extensor process fragments” from the coffin joint using a specific method of surgical removal of the fragment via arthroscopy.
18 Friesian horses that had undergone this surgical procedure were included in this study, using medical records (including lameness evaluations before and after surgery), radiographs (both before and after surgery), and owner surveys to evaluate the response of these horses to the procedure. 17 horses were available for long-term follow-up post-surgery, and of these 17, 14 were used as intended, with three continuing with some degree of lameness. The authors noted that these results were better than what had been published previously and concluded: “arthroscopic removal is a good treatment option for horses with large extensor process fragmentation with a good long-term outcome.”
Studies such as this one provide us with some guidance as to how to approach a Friesian horse that is exhibiting lameness that has been attributed to an issue with an extensor process fragment. One has to be cautious when considering surgery and consult with an equine surgeon to make sure that the horse in question meets the criteria needed to make it a good surgical candidate. Other factors about the horse can impact whether surgery should even be undertaken and make for a poorer prognosis if the procedure is performed.
Scientific Article: Compagnie E, ter Braake, F, de Heer, N and Back, W. Arthroscopic Removal of Large Extensor Process Fragments in 18 Friesian Horses: Long-Term Clinical Outcome and Radiological Follow-Up of the Distal Interphalangeal Joint. Vet Surg 45 (2016), pp. 536-541.